Secure WiFi on Vacation

secure wifi on vacationGrowing up with a Dad who was a psychiatrist, August was always the month for vacations.  (As I got older I used to worry about his patients who were left alone for an entire month!)  There are some things you can do to make sure you have secure WiFi wherever you are in the world.  The most important is keeping your WiFi use safe and secure.

Here are some steps to take before and during your vacation:

  • Set up a throwaway email before you leave.  While you are gone, you will be asked numerous times for your email address.  Lots of times, they just won’t take “no” for an answer.  Head over to Google’s Gmail sign up page for a new (free) account. Remember the password, and be sure you set up auto-forwarding to your main email address.  You’ll want your smartphone to be able to receive any access codes that may be sent.
  • When you’re going for free WiFi, try to use well-known companies.  For example, Starbucks or the Hilton are well known for their secure WiFi and aren’t likely to steal your info for a nefarious use.
  • Whatever you do, don’t try to connect to WiFi with names like “TellMy WiFi LuvHer”, or “FBI Surveillance Van” or  “Hacker 547”.  (Yes, I’ve seen all of those.)  Remember the old adage – “If it’s free, YOU are the product”.  Think about what they might be getting out of the transaction to provide you with free WiFi.
  • Sometimes the rest stops on the Interstate highways will have free secure WiFi, but only if you provide them with your email address and zip code.  This is where that new throw-away email comes in handy.  If they do ask for your name and zip, remember that you don’t have to give them your real info.

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

Chris Ed

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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5 Easy Steps To Delete Browsing History On Your iPhone

You know how we always tell you to delete the history on your web browser on your computer?  Well, you need to delete browsing history on your smartphone too.  It helps speed up your interactions with the servers.  But it also helps keep your data more secure too, since it deletes any installed cookies as well as your entire history.

If anyone is able to hack into your phone they may be able to gain access to your login information for any number of websites.  It may also help to make you look like a new user to websites that track the number of times you’ve visited.  You’ve gotten that message – “You’ve logged on ten times for free.  Subscribe now!”  I don’t know about you, but I would prefer not to provide my email address to another sales organization and an easy way around that error message is to delete browsing history.

It is really very easy to delete your history.  Just follow these 5 steps.

5 Easy Steps to Delete Browsing History on your iPhone

  1. Open up your SettingsHow to Delete Browsing History On Your iPhone
  2. Click on “Safari”
  3. Scroll almost all the way to the bottom of the page
  4. Click on “Clear History and Website Data”
  5. Confirm that you truly want to delete browsing history.  It really will delete all of the open web pages on your iPhone. This means that every page you’ve opened in your iPhone’s browser will be gone!  This was a surprise to me because I tend to save my open tabs so I can reference them again.  If there are tabs that you have open on your phone that you would like to keep, it’s best to save them first, then wipe the history!

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 PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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Facebook Followers Hoax

In the past few weeks, I have seen numerous friends posting about all of the “weird” Facebook followers they have.  They’ve been a little freaked out about the strange people who see all of their posts.  I keep getting asked questions like:

  • “Why are these people interested in me?”
  • “Are they trying to steal my identity?”
  • “How do I stop this?”

First things first:

Change how you are sharing. If you make all of your posts for “Friends Only”, and not “Public”, no one else can see what you’re posting.  Even people who are following you can not see your posts if you don’t set your posts to “public”.

Secondly:

It’s a hoax.  The instructions tell you to type “Following Me” into the search box.  What comes up is a whole list of names of people you’ve never heard of.  Facebook presents you with this list because they have names similar to “Following me”.  Just like if you were to search for “John Smith”, you’d get people with names similar to “John Smith”.

How to Find Your Facebook Followers:

If you really want to see who is following you without being friends with you, follow these steps on the Facebook app:

  1. Click on your name/ go to your own page.
  2. Just below your photo and name is a little line that says “Followed by xxx people”. Facebook Followers
  3. Click on that link and scroll through the list.  Most of these will probably be people who have sent you a friend request, but you’ve never responded.  Are there people you don’t know with no friends in common with you?  Feel free to block any of them that you don’t want seeing your public posts.

From the Facebook webpage, follow these steps:

  1. Click on your name.
  2. CLick on “Friends”.
  3. When the list of your friends pops up, click on the down arrow next to “Other” at the top of the list.  Then click on “Followers” to see the whole list.  Facebook Followers
  4. Scroll through the list.  Most of these will probably be people who have sent you a friend request, but you’ve never responded.  Are there people you don’t know with no friends in common with you?  Feel free to block any of them that you don’t want seeing your public posts.

Were you able to find your Facebook Followers?  Let us know if you still need  help!

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 check it out.)

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.)

Your New iPhone: How to Set it Up For Ease and Security

Did you get a brand new iPhone over the holidays?  There are some things you should do right away to make sure it stays secure and you keep being happy with it.  Even if you’ve had your phone for several months, make sure you’ve taken care of these.

Lock down your new iPhone:

First – you want to make sure your new iPhone can be locked down.  Go to “Settings”, and scroll down to “Touch (or Face) ID and Passcode”.  If you’ve already set up a passcode, you’ll need to enter it before continuing to these options. Decide if you want to use the Touch or Face ID, or if you just want to use a passcode.  If you do want to use a passcode, we recommend that you select one that is more than four digits.  You can select a custom alph-numeric code, or a custom numeric code.

Fine Tune Location Settings:

You’ll also want to lock down your Location settings.  Click on “Settings”, and then “Privacy”.  You can see which Apps get location data and turn off the ones that don’t really need to know where you are located.

Set up Siri:Setting up your new iPhone

When I’m on a road trip, I turn on “Hey Siri”.  This allows me to have hands-free interaction with my iphone.  To turn this on, click on “Settings”, and then “Siri & Search”.  Slide the button to “on” to allow for Siri to listen.  You can also select a language and voice for Siri on this screen.

Sharing Analytics:

Decide if you want to share analytics from your iPhone with Apple.  Apple collects usage data and location information.  To turn this off click on “Settings”, and then “Privacy”.  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Analytics”.  Make sure the button is turned off.

Targeted Ads:

Opt out of receiving targeted ads.  Click on “Settings”, “Privacy”.  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Advertising”.  Slide the green button On to Limit Ad Tracking.

Save Your Photos!

This is a good time to decide what to do with your photos. Do you have a plan in place for saving them off of your phone?  I have set up  Dropbox to save my photos onto the cloud every day.

Add Shortcuts for Favorite Websites:

Do you have websites that you go to frequently?  You can add them as an icon on your new iPhone screen by clicking on the up arrow at the bottom of your Safari screen.  Slide the bottom row of options over until you see “Add to Home Screen”.  Click on that, personalize the text, and then click “Add”.

What do you do to set up your new iPhone?  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 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.)

Year in Review from Geek For Hire, Inc.

It’s time for our 2017 Year In Review.  This year has seen some big changes in Technology.  But we focused a lot on keeping safe when you are using your computer and your Smartphone.  It’s primarily about using common sense.  Microsoft or Apple will not call you when you have a virus on your machine.  Trickier, though are the emails which look like they are coming from a company you use and trust.  We spent a good bit of time this year explaining how to protect yourself from scams.

Keeping safe on the internet has been our prime focus throughout the year:

  • We started the year with how to protect yourself from Phishing Attacks. “Phishing” is when someone tries to obtain your personal information to log into your bank accounts, or hack your email to send scam messages.  Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks
  • A few months later, we focused on phishing again in Phishing Expeditions
  • With the Holidays, everyone is just a little more vulnerable, and some people let their guard down when they are shopping online. Here was my guide to keeping safe online during the holidays: Holiday Phishing
  • Throughout this year, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of scammy phone calls our customers have been receiving. In the spring I wrote about how to tell if the person on the other end of the line is for real or not: 4 Ways To Tell if the Person Calling You is not a Scammer
  • Early this fall, we learned that the US Government has had software made and sold by Kaspersky Labs on their “Do Not Trust / Do Not Use” list for years. Here is my write-up about that issue: Kaspersky Anti-virus

Online Privacy

We wrote several times about online privacy.  Keeping safe on the internet isn’t just about not clicking on those bad links.  You also need to make sure that you are keeping your personal information private.  Here are several articles about Online Privacy and Social Media:Year In Review

We also talked about new technology:

  • With the new iPhone X getting so much attention with their new unlocking technology, we thought it was time to take a look at the history of Facial Recognition
  • And, Virtual Reality has made some strides in the past few years. We took a look at some of the changes: Virtual Reality Update

And the newest hot topic:

 

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.)

Memory Stick aka Thumb Drive aka Flash Drive

Last week a customer asked Chris to transfer a bunch of files from his computer to a memory stick. He handed Chris a brand new flash drive along with his laptop. I happened to be there when Chris was transferring the files. He was very frustrated at the speed at which the files were being transferred. You might say they were being copied at a “turtle’s pace”!

I asked Chris why it was taking so long. I thought that all memory sticks were pretty much the same except for their capacity.  He then told me that memory sticks have different speeds.  The less expensive ones will transfer files very slowly.  The more expensive ones will be quick and snappy.  He explained that USB 3.0 are generally much faster than USB 2.0. He also mentioned that the packaging typically only lists the speed if they are faster than 150mBps.  The cheap memory sticks generally have speeds of 2mBps and don’t broadcast that “turtle’s pace” on the outside.Memory Sticks & Flash Drives

About 45 minutes later, Chris was done transferring all the files.  If you need to copy files to a memory stick and don’t care how long it takes, get the cheapest one.

Expect to pay $15 for a 16gig memory stick that is reasonably fast, and about $20 for 32gig.

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.)

What you need to know about Bitcoins and Blockchain

After a few years of virtually no mainstream news about Bitcoins, all of a sudden Bitcoins (and Blockchain) are back in the news again.  Part of that has to do with Bitcoins recent upward trajectory to cross the $10,000 mark.  (Here’s a great visual of Bitcoin’s growth in 2017.) I first explored the subject earlier this year in my blog entitled Digital Currencies and Bitcoins.

Since then, Bitcoins, Blockchains and other Digital Currencies have filled up my inbox.  What is interesting to me is that, not too long ago Bitcoin, and other crypto-currencies, were not a trusted form of currency.  Today, while it is still not trusted by the average American, they are being used by more and more people throughout the world.  I’ve been learning that, as volatile as it is, Bitcoin is still more stable than several global currencies. Plus, Bitcoins provide privacy and independence that US currency does not.Price of Bitcoins

I’m still learning, so I won’t pretend to know nearly enough about Bitcoins, Blockchain, or other Crypto-currencies.  Here are articles I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to.  If you’d like to learn more, explore this list.  And then do more research on your own.  Please let us know of any resources you’ve found that are particularly helpful.

Articles explaining Bitcoins:

Podcasts about Bitcoins:

Here are some books that may be helpful:

Let us know what other resources you’ve found.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

5 Easy Steps To Delete Cookies On Your iPhone

Chris and I had a conversation this morning about the pesky news sites that limit the number of articles you can read each month. There are some newspapers that I won’t even read online because I get that nasty error message that says: “You’ve reached the limit!  Subscribe now!”  He told me that when he runs into that, the solution is to delete cookies on your iPhone.

WHAAAAAT?! I didn’t realize you could do that.

As I started looking into this, I see that there are other benefits as well. Just like with your computer, you do want to delete cookies on your iPhone regularly to keep your private information safe and secure.  And, just like the rest of of the business world, there are companies out there who want to sell you an app to “take care of this for you”.  Don’t fall for that trick!  It’s easy enough to do it yourself.

5 Easy Steps to Delete Cookies on your iPhone

  1. Open up your SettingsHow to Delete Cookies On Your iPhone
  2. Click on “Safari”
  3. Scroll almost all the way to the bottom of the page
  4. Click on “Clear History and Website Data”
  5. Confirm that you truly want to delete all of your history.  This means that every page you’ve opened in your iPhone’s browser will be gone!  This was a surprise to me, because I tend to save my open tabs so I can reference them again.  If there are tabs that you have open on your phone that you would like to keep, it’s best to save them first, then wipe the history!

If you found this helpful, please share with your friends!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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