Why do I need a VPN and What is it anyways?

VPN’s

Many of our customers have been asking us about VPN’s lately.  What is a VPN? Do I need a VPN? How do I set up a VPN? With Internet privacy being what it is, more and more people are wondering how they can protect themselves.  A VPN may be the answer.  Let’s answer these questions one at a time:

What is a VPN?

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is encrypting software that masks your identity and internet activity by hiding your IP Address. (Your IDo you need a VPN?P Address is the number associated with your computer or phone that identifies you to the network. It’s a string of numbers like 11.111.11.111 and uniquely identifies you.  If you head over to What Is My IP Address, it will tell you what your IP address is, who your ISP is, and where you are located.)  When you use a VPN, your computer sends your internet actvity to a remote server which will then send your request on, but without your identifying IP address. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will not be able to see or track your activity.

Do I need a VPN?

If you are traveling in a country with less secure internet practices, you may need a VPN.  If you frequently use the Internet at coffeeshops, you may need a VPN. If you want to keep your internet activity secure for any reason at all, you probably need a VPN. (Remember that just because a public WiFi is called Starbucks, doesn’t mean it is really being provided by the store you are in.  It could also be someone in the parking lot monitoring traffic and collecting as much personal data as they can.)

How do I set up a VPN?

First, do some research to see which VPN provides the features that you want at an afordable price. You can expect to pay under $10/month for a good VPN Service.  Most VPN’s allow you to connect multiple devices. When doing your research, look to see if the company saves your data and what the laws are in the country it operates in. Another feature that some VPNs have is to disconnect you from the Internet if their service stops working for whatever reason.  That way you’re never using the interent without being encrypted.

Once you’ve selected the service, download the software on each device – computer, tablet, phone – and you are good to go!

Was this helpful for you? Let us know 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  (Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

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3 Best Routers – Does Your WiFi Reach Into Your Yard?

Best Routers

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about routers recently.  What are the best routers?  How do I get the most secure router?  My internet is super fast – can I get a router that is super-fast too? Of course, Chris has his favorite, but I thought it would be good to head over to Amazon to find the very best routers with top ratings.  So I looked for a router which has at least 100 reviews with an average rating above four stars. I’ve also copied an actual review of these three best routers.  (Full disclosure – if you buy something using these links, Geek For Hire may earn a small commission.)

eero Home WiFi System (4.6 Stars / 1,536 Reviews)

Ok, I will admit that I bought these with the full intention of probably having to send them back. Through the years I have tried several different systems to put good wireless throubest routers - eeroghout our 3-story home. I’ve used several different routers, and have had an Apple AirPort Extreme and two Airport Express’ running (which still provide the backbone in the house for our less needy machine system). But nothing I did could get a good signal into the master bedroom in the back of the house, especially with the main router being in the home office upstairs on the other side of the house. My better half constantly let me know I was a poor excuse of a Network Engineer when she wasn’t even able to watch the latest Korean drama in peace while laying in bed.  Unpacking – simple and clean. … Once I had all the Beacons set up I went through the house trying to find a weak spot or dead spot. Couldn’t find one – not one! Guess I won’t be sending this stuff back after all. Sure put a smile on my better half’s face! Oh, and is this thing FAST!!!

NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming WiFi Router (4.6 Stars / 244 Reviews)

“Being a casual gamer with a DSL connection in today’s world is a real disadvantage. My ping speeds were in the 190s prior to this routbest routers - netgearer. After using the geo filter and anti buffer bloat they dropped into the 20s!!!! Yes, the 20s. Only having 10 MBps, the traffic prioritisation is a must have. I put my PS4 at the top of the list and if somebody decides to fire up youtube while I’m playing its not an issue anymore. This is a game changer. But the real benefit is the DUMA OS. It is perfect for a novice like myself to manage my home network however I want. Kid wont put down the IPad and take out the trash? No problem, one click and that IPad is offline. Want to block sites for certain devices? Done. There are super technical things you can do on this but I’m too scared to mess with those so I don’t. It seems like a lot of money but once you realize the benefits of this you’ll wish you’d have done it sooner.

Linksys Velop Tri-band Whole Home WiFi Intelligent Mesh System (4.5 Stars / 1,656 Reviews)

“I replaced my Apple Airport Extreme with this. It felt like a better experience for Wi-Fi in my house was possible. I HAD best routers - linksysNO IDEA how much better it could be. I bought a SINGLE Velop node and it covers my entire home better than the Airport Extreme *combined* with an Airport Express did. I will likely need a second Velop node come summer to reach our back yard, but my entire house is now completely covered. It gives FULL download speeds from my modem (350Mbps) and I could not be happier. I researched all the Mesh systems out there (Google, Eero, etc.,) and this one seemed the way to go. Of course I didn’t buy the others, but I am VERY VERY happy with the Velop and will recommend it to everyone who asks me about home Wi-fi.

What do you consider the Best Router?

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 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial 

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Scam Phone Calls – One Simple Thing To Protect Yourself

Scam Phone Calls:

We’re getting more calls for technical support from people who have fallen for one of the scam phone calls. They receive the call, and let the “tech” from “Microsoft” or “Dell” gain access to their machine. Or, the “tech” asks them if they have a particular file on their machine, and then express concern and alarm when the person says “Yes I do have that file.  Is that bad?”.  Of course, this is a file that every Windows machine must have to function, but the average person doesn’t know that. These people are highly skilled in the art of persuasion.  They are very convincing. This is their job, and they won’t want to let you go.

And, it’s not your imagination.  These “bad operators” are stepping up their activity.  Even Microsoft has recognized the problem.  Virus headlines like these keep coming across my newsfeed.

And here are two articles who recognized the scam and played along:

scam phone calls

Phone Operators

From the Microsoft website:

“It is a SCAM!!! Microsoft does not do that nor do they have partners who do that nor do they hire sub-contractors or people or even get volunteers to do that. There are probably thousands of such companies out there doing this every day.”

One Simple Thing to Protect Yourself From Scam Phone Calls:

Remember that Microsoft, or Google, or Dell, or anyone else won’t call you to tell you have a virus.  Those phone calls are always scams.  So, there really is just one thing you can do to protect yourself. Hang up!  These folks are well practiced and very convincing.  Hang up!

Apple Scam Phone Calls:

Sorry, Mac users.  It’s only a matter of time before you start getting targeted too.  As more and more people transition to Mac’s, they won’t let you out of the fun. Your solution is the same.  Hang up!

Be careful with who you allow to access your machine. Hang up if your spider sense starts tingling.

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. (Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

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

9 Tips For Keeping Your Data Safe during Fire Season

Fire Season

James Peak during Fire Season

I woke up this morning to a hazy, smoky view. 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 moments 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 at the shelter.

Recommendations for Fire Season:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Make sure you have a bunch of fully charged battery packs.  I got two of these iXCC Power Banks several months ago and am constantly using one or the other.  I carry one in my car so if I run low on charge, I can easily get recharged again.
  6. 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 15 minutes.
  7. Remember to keep your precious photos and other valuables in a bin by the door ready to go in case you do get evacuated.
  8. Keep your fuel tanks at least half full throughout the fire season.
  9. 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!

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. (Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

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

Streaming Music Apps – or Why I Don’t Like Spotify

Streaming Music Apps

Last week I reviewed several streaming music apps.  Since I’ve used Pandora for years for streaming music, I was wondering if there are other viable options out there.  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.) You can see my review of Pandora and Google Play here.streaming music

Spotify:

I tried Spotify next.    I did need to create an account before listening, which I guess makes sense.  I’m not sure why they needed my birthday information, but they did ask, and I did lie… (You know me.  Don’t provide any of your personal information that is not 100% required. They also asked if they could send me notifications.  I declined those.)

Once I was logged in, they asked me to choose some favorite bands.  Then they indicated that they would create some playlists for me.  The next screen, however, was full of “popular” music that I am not inclined to listen to.

There was a little button that said “My Music”.  When I clicked there, expecting to see all the bands I had JUST selected, they asked me to create a playlist.  So I created a new playlist, but that apparently was only the title of the play list.  I still had to choose music for this play list.  And, again, a list of “popular” music was provided, six songs at a time.  None of these songs were from any of the bands I had favorited earlier.  On this screen, there isn’t a place to search for music that I might like.  The only choices are the ones that Spotify has pre-selected for you.

So far, I’m not impressed, and I’m not recommending it. Next.

Apple Music:

I signed in with my Apple ID, so that was easy.  Apple wanted me to sign up for their streaming music service and I would get the first 30 days for free.  Since I’m looking for a free alternative to Pandora, I moved on.  I know that I can always listed to my music in iTunes.

Tidal:

You know this about me already.  I don’t believe in paying for apps.  I don’t mind listening to some commercials in exchange for the service, but I won’t fork over my credit card info.  Tidal is not available without a subscription, so…. Next.

AmazonMusic:

Since I already have an Amazon account, I easily signed in. I liked that they initiated two-factor authorization.  They sent a code to my cell phone (which they already had on file) to make sure I was me.  Once I entered that six digit code into my iPad, I was ready to go.  They then asked if they could access my iTunes library which I declined.  Amazon also wanted me to sign up for a free trial before being billed $11/month.  I clicked on the “No thanks, not now” button. I also said “No thanks” to the offer to send me notifications. Then I noticed that as a Prime member I already get access to commercial-free play.

Amazon also has a list of recommended playlists.  Unlike Spotify though, there was a variety of music here, including music I might like.  I clicked on “Acoustic Pop”, for an hour and a half of pre-selected music.  Amazon doesn’t have a “thumbs up” button.  If you do like a song, you click on the three little dots for the drop-down menu.  From there you can select “Add to my music”, which is as close to favorited as I can find here. You can add the song to one of your playlists from this drop-down menu too. If you don’t like a song, you simply click on the right arrow or next button.

Amazon also has an option to show the lyrics, a feature I really like. What I don’t like: My favorite local bands aren’t’ available as they are on some of the other platforms.  Here’s the link if you’d like to give AmazonMusic a free trial. Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial

Recomendation:

What is my recommendation for a streaming music app?  I’ll still use Pandora, but I think Amazon Music is my new favorite.

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

(Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

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

Private Search Engines & Your Internet Safety

When we first started using Google, who would have thought that we’d want Private Search Engines in 2018? Privacy on the internet is something we used to take for granted. No one knew that we were logging into weird sites or making questionable purchases.  That’s all changed now.  Google tracks us.  Facebook tracks us. Even Amazon knows that we bought those pink Ugg boots at Marshalls.

Last year I learned about a search engine that doesn’t track our searches. I have installed it on my phone, my tablet, and my laptop.  It was easy to do.  While my level of trust with technology is somewhat lower than it was five years ago, I do feel good about using DuckDuckGo.

But as I started researching this article, I wondered what other search engines are out there. It turns out that there are several from which to choose.

PRIVATE SEARCH ENGINES:

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is the one of the first private search engines I became aware of.  I found that the app was easy to install on all of my devices.  I like their privacy policy which is described on their website:Private Search Engines

DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information. That is our privacy policy in a nutshell.”

However, SearchEncrypt doesn’t think DuckDuckGo is as secure as it could be.  Here’s a description of its major flaw on the SearchEncrypt website:

DuckDuckGo is a private search engine. It is adamant about spreading privacy around the internet. However, there is one issue we discovered that raises privacy concerns. Your search terms, while they may be sent over your network in an encrypted form, show up in plain text in browsing history.  DDG may work well for reducing advertiser tracking, avoiding filter bubbles, and limiting data profiling, however as this post explains, it may not offer the protection from surveillance organizations that some think.”

StartPage:

StartPage was originally developed in New York as the Ixquick private search engine.  It was then acquired by a Dutch company and so most of its growth was in Europe.  Now, they are becoming more well known around the world, including the US. They do utilize Google to get their results. I like how they define “Personal Information”

“Information is regarded as personal when it tells something about a human being who is or can be (uniquely) identified.
This definition stems from European law, which applies to StartPage, and is intentionally broad in order to provide a high level of privacy protection. This means, for example, that not just names and e-mail addresses can be personal information, but also numbers or other identifiers, such as your IP-address, to the extent that they link other information to a specific human being.”

SearchEncrypt:

According to HackerNoon, this is a newer edition to the private search engines. But SearchEncrypt is gaining users.  Here is HackerNoon‘s description:

“This private search engine uses local encryption to secure your searches. It combines with AES-256 encryption with Secure Sockets Layer encryption. Search Encrypt then retrieves your search results from its network of search partners. After you’re done searching, your search terms expire so they are private even if someone else has access to your computer.  Search Encrypt is a relatively new addition to this list, but it is growing quickly. Its Alexa Traffic Rank of 878 indicates that it receives millions of visitors daily.”

More About Private Search Engines:

If you’re looking for other private Search Engines, you can find a few listed in this article.

How do you do your Internet searches?  Are you using Google, Yahoo!, or something else?

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 on 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

(Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

 

Spear Phishing – What to look for

I learned a new term today.  Spear phishing.  I’ve talked about phishing before in several blogposts, but spear phishing was a totally new term to me. As you might have guessed, it’s just like phishing, but way more targeted.  They’ve got enough information about you to make you think they are legit.  And that seems to be enough for you to fall for their schemes and give them even more information about you.  But don’t fall for it!

There are several commonly used techniques including:spear phishing

  1. Flattery
  2. Trusted Source
  3. Social Engineering

Spear phishing via flattery:

This is when someone contacts you, either via an email, text, or other direct message.  The message is from someone that you admire.  They compliment you and ask you for some sort of assistance.  Once you fall for the deception, they’ll ask for more and more of your personal information.  In this article from Wired, the author actually provided her Twitter information, including her password.  Here’s a short blip of her story:

“A few weeks ago, I got a direct message on Twitter from one Larry Summers. Yes, the Larry Summers, if that nasty little aquafresh checkmark beside @LHSummers was to be believed.  Larry Summers of Harvard. Larry Summers of the World Bank. Larry Summers of the Treasury Department, for the love of god.”

Now that you know the end of the story, you can see where this is going. But, if you had been a fan of Secretary Lawrence Sanders, you might have been fooled too.

Spear phishing via a “Trusted Source”:

In this case, you receive an email from (what appears to be) someone you know. Most likely it is a work colleague, someone that you have corresponded with in the past.  They’d like you to take a look at a document (which they have conveniently attacthed) before it gets published.  Or, they’ve forgotten the password to access the company database for a specific file.  It all seems very inocuous, and, because it is from someone that you trust, you fall for the bait.

Spear phishing via Social Engineering:

Social Engineering requires that the “spear phisher” do a bit of research about the target.  They’ll learn the person’s title, the name and title of their boss, the name or subject of the person’s current project, maybe the name of one or two of their subordinates.  Then they will send an email which appears to be from a company the target is working with.They’ll make a specific request, adding enough personal information to be believable.

How do you protect yourself from Spear phishing?

  1. Don’t click on links until you have verified the end target of that link.  Is it going to companyname.com or companynome.com?  Tricky, right?  Look carefully!
  2. Don’t open any documents in an email until you have confirmed with your colleague that they actually sent it.
  3. Don’t call the phone number or reply via the information included in the message.  Use a phone number or email that you already have on file for that person.

Have you been the target of a spear phishing attack?  How did you deal with it?  Did you fall for their deception?  Let us know 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

(Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

Tech Purchases from China and the New Trade Tariffs

How will the trade war with China impact our tech purchases?

Last Friday, when the President announced new trade tariffs with China, and then when the stock market tanked two days in a row, I got a little concerned about the impact those tariffs might have on technology and the average consumer.  I’ve spent the weekend reading the news and mentally processing what this might mean to our tech purchases.

One thing that struck me was the mania that has been attached to this story.  The hyped up media isn’t helping us keep a clear head so that we can approach the impact of this news with clarity.  I’m looking for more clarity about this story and am finding clear thinking in the finance news.Tech Purchases - Made in China

When I talked with Chris Eddy about this, he indicated that paying more attention to intellectual property would be a good thing.  But how will that impact our tech purchases?

On the Market Watch website, they are pretty optimistic that the tariffs will not have a negative effect for these three reasons:

“Here are the three trade numbers that show that a trade war is less likely.

• In 2017, the U.S. imported $506 billion worth of goods from China.

• Trump is talking about tariffs on only a small fraction in the range of $50 billion-$60 billion.

• China’s response is very weak. In a tit-for-tat, China would have proposed duties on U.S. goods worth around the same amount. Instead, China is proposing duties on $3 billion worth of goods.”

So, just in terms of raw numbers, the impact of the tariffs is fairly small. The tariffs will apply to less than 12% of all imports. On the Investopedia website they name some of the sectors which will be targeted:

Trump’s tariffs on China are expected to target aeronautics, modern rail, new energy vehicles and high-tech products. … Tech hardware and machinery are among the largest U.S. import categories, and, in our view, are at risk,”

In looking through all the news stories, I tried to find someone (anyone!) who would tell me how this might impact the average consumer and their tech purchases.  USA Today has projected small increases in consumer goods:

“Amazon, which buys in bulk and operates on thin margins, could pass along only a 1% or 2% higher price to consumers, says Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at GBH Insights.

Similarly, tariffs on imported parts such as semiconductors might raise the price of a laptop by only about 3%, Hufbauer says.

Other retailers could be affected as well, depending on the final list of 1,300 products that the U.S. has said it will target.

“A family of four will end up paying about $500 more to buy (clothing, shoes, fashion accessories and travel goods) every year” if those products are subject to 25% tariffs, the American Apparel and Footwear Association says.”

So, we could see a small increase on tech items of 3% or so.  Unfortunately the adage of “Buy American” doesn’t work so well with technology since so much of it is manufactured in Asia.

For additional reading, check out these articles and opinion pieces:

In the meantime, we’ll continue to help you keep your technology good to go, so that you can spread out those new tech purchases!

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

(Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

Security Summit Thoughts – Hack-Proof Your Mac or PC

Last week I attended Microsoft’s “Virtual” Security Summit.  I have the word virtual in quotes because I didn’t have to travel anywhere.  My son and I watched the live streaming video in our living room! While I like the buzz of meeting new people, staying at home and learning new things has its advantages as well.  The Summit was primarily targeted towards management of large enterprise firms, I did pick up a few nuggets of information that will help the average person with the security of their machine as well.

First tip for Security:Security

Make sure the user permissions on your account are set to “Standard User” and not “Administrator”. This cuts down on the chance that viruses or other malware can be easily installed on your machine. This also protects a random bad operator from installing a bitcoin mining operation on your machine.  You provide the computer and electricity, they get the benefit.  If anyone has ever installed the SETI program on their machine, it would work similarly to that.  (The “Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” program gave the opportunity for ordinary computer users like Chris Eddy to allow SETI to use some of their computer operating power.)

Next:

Make your machine harder for the bad guys to get access to. Use a very secure password, set up two-factor authentication wherever you can. Install updates to your Operating System as soon as they are available.

Finally:

Use good security practices. Patti Chrzan, head of Microsoft’s cyber-security fraud division said this:

“90% of all cyber crime starts with a phishing email”

A reminder that the phishing email is an attempt to get access to your personal information, like your birthday or password.  A phishing email might also install a virus, ransomware, or other malware.

Being hyper-alert of every click, and every email you open puts you way ahead of the average person. Even if the email seems legit, never click on a link in an email from a corporation until you have confirmed its legitimacy.  Call the company to confirm that your account has been hacked, or your password was changed, or a large purchase was made.  Never take the word of an email at its face value!

The highlight of my day was when Microsoft retweeted my comment:

security

Just because you have an antivirus installed, does not automatically make you secure. You must have good personal systems in place too.

Past blogs you may find helpful:

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

(Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)