How NOT to Become a Victim of Holiday Phishing Scams

It’s the Holiday season and, like me, you’re probably getting more emails than ever. Holiday phishing scams are on the rise! In the past few days, we’ve received a number of calls from people wondering if an email was “real” or not.  In most cases, they were not. I think they send out so many of these messages in November and December because they know we are so overwhelmed between work and shopping and family that we’ll likely miss any clues.holiday phishing scams

Examples of Holiday Phishing Scams:

  • One person got an email from her “email provider” saying she needed to log in to her account right away because they claimed her mailbox had exceeded storage on her account. “Just click this link and you can log in!”
  • Another received an email from his “bank” claiming someone else tried to log into his account and he needed to click this link and log in right away to confirm his identity.
  • A third received a phone call from her “credit card company” saying there was fraudulent activity and she just needed to provide her birthday and last four of her social security number to confirm her identity.
  • A fourth received an email from a magazine he subscribes to. They wanted to let him know that his subscription was up for renewal and they were all set to charge his account on December 13th.  If he wanted to make any changes all he had to do was click the link.

Scammers have gotten better and better about making you believe that a particular email is from a real company and not from a scammer.

Other Scams:

And don’t forget about Social Media.  I think by now we’ve all received the private Facebook message that says “I can’t believe what you did! Check out the video!”, but when you click on the video you start spamming all of YOUR friends! But other private messages are more subtle. Always double-check with your friend to see if they really sent you the link.

Another recent scam is sending a link via a text message. I’ve been getting a lot of these recently. In fact, I received one just this morning! It was sent to 20 other people all with sequential cell phone numbers telling us to “Tap to load preview”

holiday phishing scams - text message

So that leads us to the question…

How do I protect myself from Holiday Phishing Scams?

First, be hyper-vigilant with your personal information.  When a company calls you and says they want to confirm it’s you by having you provide your birthday, address,  or the last four of your social, just say “NO!”. Tell them you’ll be happy to call them back at a number you already have for that company to take care of the issue.

Next, check to see that the email even makes sense.  Are you receiving a message from a bank you no longer do business with? Did you get an email from your girlfriend saying she is stranded in Athens, but you saw her just last night?

Next, carefully review your emails before clicking on any links. Even if the logos are correct and the color scheme is correct, it still might be a scam.  Is the message really from “Amazon.com” or is it from “Amaz0ne.com”?  (Notice the letter “o” became the number zero.)  Check the “from” address.  And check to see if the link is shortened to a bit.ly link or is it the company’s actual web address?

I’ve written some other blogs about staying safe onlin recently.  Check out:

Of course, you can sign up for our newsletter and receive our free report on how to protect yourself from phishing scams.

Conclusion:

Think before you click!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

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6 Easy Steps to Delete Cookies from Your Browser

Not everyone knows that December 4th is National Cookie Day. And if you did know that, you’re probably thinking about the chocolate chip variety! At Geek For Hire, Inc., when someone says “cookie,” we think “Delete Cookies!” and of the little tracking code that is left behind when you visit most websites.

What Are Cookies?Delete Cookies

A cookie is a code that is stored on a file associated with your web browser on your computer. It is used to uniquely identify you without personally identifying you. Here is Chris’ explanation:

“I think of a cookie as a sticky note with a six on it.  A website will place that sticky note on your forehead. When you visit that website again, it looks at your sticky note and says, “Oh! You’re a six!” and will put a little checkmark to indicate you’ve revisited.”

How do Cookies work?

Cookies track your activity on a particular website.  Some websites collect and store a lot of information: others, just a little. For example, the Geek For Hire, Inc. website uses StatCounter to track the number of visitors to our site. When you visit our site, StatCounter places a cookie on your computer or phone. This helps us know how many visitors we’ve had, how many of those are repeat visitors, and what pages they looked at.  Cookies do not generally track personally identifiable information.

Should you Delete Cookies on your computer?

Absolutely.  When you leave cookies on your machine for months or years, the performance of your browser may be sluggish. (When there are more than 500 files in a folder, the file system becomes ineffective. The website you’re visiting will need to look at all the files in the folder to make sure it gets all the relevant data.  The more files you have, the longer it will take.)  When you delete cookies, your browser experience becomes much more efficient.

benefit to delete cookies

How do you Delete Cookies?

Follow these steps to delete cookies on your machine:

  1. Open your web browser
  2. Click on “Tools”.  If you don’t see a menu bar with “tools”, look on the far right side of your browser for a menu icon or three little dots.
  3. Click on “Options”
  4. Click on “Privacy and Security”
  5. Click on “Browsing History” or “Cookies”
  6. Select the cookies you want to delete.  Some browsers let you delete cookies for individual websites, others let you delete cookies for the past day.  You should also have the option to delete ALL cookies.
  7. If you use more than one browser, for example, Firefox and Chrome and Safari, you’ll need to repeat these steps for each browser.

WARNING: When you delete cookies from your browser history, the browser will have forgotten all of your login information for your bank, Amazon, Facebook, etc. You will need to log into different websites again. Make sure you know your passwords or are ready to change your passwords at the same time.

Check out this article about how to delete cookies on your iPhone.

Another Definition of Cookies:

I also like this definition from Thrillist:

“Simply put, “cookies” are actually small packets of data sent to your browser from websites you visit, containing information about your activity on the page, which your browser then saves as a small text file. That information can include your username and password, site preferences, or what you might’ve left in your Amazon shopping cart — the browser saves that stuff so you don’t have to re-enter it every time, which is nice.

“There are multiple different types of cookies which behave in different ways: Some are erased when you close the window, while others are stored on your hard drive until they expire (or you delete them).

“As for why they’re called cookies, there’s actually a straightforward explanation: It’s a play on “fortune cookies” (because they contain hidden information).”

Conclusion:

Just like changing the batteries on your smoke detector twice a year when the time changes, remember to delete all of your cookies on National Cookie Day.  (And maybe two or three other times per year too.)

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

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

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Travel Tips for the Holidays!

It’s Holiday Season and time for many people to take big road trips.  Our family does this every year.  Most of our family is on the East Coast, others are near Los Angeles, and we’re here in snowy Colorado! So someone is driving or flying every year – this year it’s our turn so I want to share some of my favorite Holiday Travel Tips and Weather sites.

Travel Tips:

The first site I visit is Google Maps. It’s easy to enter all the addresses you will visit. For example, I’ll enter my sister’s address as the endpoint, and then I can enter the address for my friend in Des Moines and my other friend outside of Toledo.Holiday Travel Tips - Google Maps The other thing I like about Google Maps is that I can alter the route if I know that I have a preference. For example, I know that I’ll choose the northern route even though it is 10 minutes longer.  If I were to go into the city, I would likely hit more traffic.  The northern route is all cows and farms with very little traffic.

I also like that Google gives me the option to click and drag the route around an obstacle or construction that they might not know about.

Weather Travel Tips:

When it gets closer to our departure date, I’ll take a look at a few different weather sites to see if we need to leave a day earlier or later. My go-to website used to be The Weather Channel.  I could enter where I was traveling from and to and it would tell me what kind of weather I’d see on my way.  Unfortunately, they’ve discontinued that feature. Now, my favorite site is WeatherUnderground.  (FYI WeatherUnderground is better as an app.  There seem to be fewer ads when I view it on my iPhone.) I like that it tells me approximately how much snow I’ll see and when there will be sunshine.

Travel Tips - weatherunderground

I also like the NOAA website, especially during hurricane season!  Here’s their map for Thanksgiving week:

Travel Tips - noaaI’ve published a list of my favorite sites two years ago.  Here is where you’ll find that list.

Conclusion:

Whether you’re driving or flying, you’ll want to take a peek at the forecast before you leave.

Do you have favorite travel websites I didn’t include here? Write a comment below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

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

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9 Easy Tips for Online Safety

Staying safe online takes constant vigilance!  Clicking on links in your email, an app, or on a random website can lead to lots of problems.  But THINKING about it all the time is exhausting! Thankfully, there are a few shortcuts to ensure your online safety

Don’t give real answers:Internet Safety / Online Safety

Probably the most important thing to remember is that not everyone is entitled to real answers. Closely guard your personal information.  Who needs to know your birthday and why? Do you need to be at least 21 or 55?  Make up a birth date to fit those criteria! Do they want to know what your zip code is to show you the closest store to you?  Type in 80305 instead of 80302! No one except maybe your bank needs to know your mother’s maiden name. Come to think of it, most apps don’t even need to know your real name or email address.  Which brings us to tip #2…

Create a throw-away email address:

It’s easy enough to set up a new email using Gmail. Use a fake name. Forward the emails to your real address so if there is something important you’ll be sure to receive it.

WiFi:

When you’re using WiFi away from your home, office, or other trusted location, be very careful to ensure that it is a legitimate service. Always ask the coffee shop, or wherever you are, what the name of their WiFi is.  Be sure you are clicking on “Starbucks” and not “S1arbucks”.  (Did you see what I did there?) And, you should always connect to WiFi on your phone or tablet via a Virtual Private Network or VPN.

Online Safety with a VPN:

A Virtual Private Network helps ensure your online safety.  A VPN is encrypting software that masks your identity and location by hiding your IP address. Check out this article explaining what a VPN is and why you need one.

Banking:

If your bank gives you the option, you should check your balance online every day to make sure nothing nefarious is going on. (If they don’t offer online banking, I’d suggest switching banks.  After all, this is the 21st Century!) Another thing you should expect from your bank is a robust Fraud Department.  As a business, we’ve occasionally had to make online purchases from other countries.  The Fraud Department at our bank calls us each time to make sure it’s really us doing the transaction. I appreciate their diligence.

Online purchasing:

If you make a lot of purchases online, you should probably open a new debit card at your current bank just for those transactions. When you make a purchase, go to your bank account online and transfer enough funds into the account for that specific purchase. If your information is compromised, you can easily close that account.

Passwords:

Online Safety
Don’t use these passwords!

I know I’ve said this before. You can’t change your passwords often enough! Online safety starts with a secure password. Change your password on all of your apps and online accounts AT LEAST once a month.  Don’t reuse passwords.  Make sure they can’t be cracked. Use at least 12 characters.  So many rules!  Sign up for our free Guide to creating a secure and easy-to-remember password.

Location tracking:

Remember to check occasionally which apps are tracking your location. Yeah, you might have it locked down, but when you update the app, they may turn location tracking on again. Yes, you want the weather app to know where you are when you want to know how much snow you’re going to get.  Once you have your forecast and close the app though, they shouldn’t still be tracking where you are.

Online safety at Libraries, Hotel Business Suites, and Internet cafés:

Most of us can do just about everything we need to online with our phone or tablet. But there are times when we need to visit a library, internet café, or the “Business Suite” at a hotel. Be especially careful in these locations.  If you need to print an email, use your phone to email the document to your throw-away email account.  Then log in to that account instead of your real email.  If you do need to log into your real email, a financial account, or another secure app, change your password on that account as soon as you’ve completed your business. And use your phone or tablet to change your password, not the computer at the library or business suite.

Conclusion:

Online safety is a habit you can grow.  Be aware of what information you’re sharing and where you are sharing it.  What information can stay private?  You can do this!

Do you have additional suggestions?  Do you need more info or clarification?  Write a comment below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

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

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9 Easy Tips to Set Up a Virtual Office

Please note: We often recommend products 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.

Virtual Office Requirements:virtual office fast wifi

WIFI:

A virtual office must have fast WiFi. A minimum of 12mbps is recommended. You may need to upgrade your router in order to provide the contracted speed that is flowed from your ISP to your devices.  (Check your actual speed at SpeedTest.)  Good routers can support many simultaneous users and fast speed.  Chris recommends the Nighthawk AC2300 router which lists for $200.  You can find it at Amazon or Best Buy. I’m pretty lucky at my friend’s home.  They’ve got great wifi!

a Virtual Office needs fast wifiTablet:

Sometimes a laptop is just too heavy!  My iPad has been perfect for internet research, sending emails, and keeping the Geek For Hire calendar up-to-date. And it’s great for watching AmazonPrime movies, playing games, and keeping up with Facebook. Here’s our Buying Guide of what to look for in a tablet.

Cell Phone:

Well, this kind of goes without saying! But it’s important that folks can reach you. If you’re working in your car in between appointments, make sure you’ve got great cell service.

Charging Cords:

Do you have the proper charging cables for all of your devices?

Optional Equipment for your Virtual Office:virtual office

Laptop:

Sure, you can get a lot of business accomplished with just your Smartphone and tablet.  But sometimes, you just need your laptop to do certain tasks. For example, Quickbooks won’t let me enter all the detail I’d like on their mobile app. I need to login to Quickbooks from my laptop to do that.

TV:

Entertainment value.  Pure and simple. Sometimes it’s nice to have background noise in your Virtual Office.

Headphones:

If you’re watching a movie at a coffee shop, having a good pair of headphones is essential!  When I got a new pair of headphones, here is the buying process I went through.

External Keyboard for Tablet:

Typing on a tablet can be cumbersome.  The hands – so big.  The keyboard – so small.  The mistakes – so many! Get yourself a Bluetooth keyboard and typing will be much easier.  The newer ones have back-lighting which makes it easier to type when the lights are dimmed.

Speech to Text Software:

Sometimes you just don’t want to type, or you can be more creative when you speak rather than typing on a keyboard. Many of our customers have used Dragon Naturally Speaking to get their thoughts down without typing.  Keep in mind that it does take a bit to customize the software to your voice.

Do you have a Virtual Office?  What tools do you rely on? Let me know in the comments below!

Please share this with your friends who don’t work in an office building.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

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

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10 Password Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

As a Mac and PC repair company, when it comes to password mistakes, we’ve seen it all!  From people using “password” to log into their investment account, to people giving their email password to a hacker who calls them on the phone. (“But he sounded like a such a nice guy!”)

Here are 10 password mistakes you don’t want to make when logging into an account on the internet.

password mistakes

  1. Don’t share your password with anyone.  If someone needs to log into one of your accounts to fix something, make sure you trust them.  And when they’re done, change your password on that account right away!
  2. Don’t save your passwords in the “cloud”.  There have been a lot of hacking attempts, and corporations are not always as careful with your data as they should be.  In fact, we’ve had two customers who have lost access to their password account.  One of them needed to log into ALL of her accounts and change the password on each one! I keep all of my passwords in an Excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet is on my computer, which has a pretty secure password, and the file itself is password protected with a 12 character phrase.
  3. Don’t keep a written list of your passwords next to your computer. (…or under your keyboard, or taped to your wall…)
  4. Don’t keep a written list in your planner (aka calendar) or phone book.
  5. Don’t auto-save passwords on your browser.  This is the same logic as saving passwords in the cloud.  Yes, it’s a pain to have to type it in each time, but corporations like Google and even Firefox don’t always follow great processes to keep your information secure.
  6. Don’t use sequential numbers or letters, like “111111” or “12345678” or “qwertyuiop” or “abcdefgh”. Click to receive our Guide on creating a secure AND easy-to-remember Password.password mistakes
  7. Don’t use something easy to guess like “password”.  Every year top security companies look to see which are the most commonly used passwords.  (“Password” has always been in the top 5.)  Wikipedia published this list in 2018. Make sure your password isn’t on this list!
  8. Don’t use a password that’s under six characters.  The longer your password is, the better.  In 2017, it took four hours to crack a simple eight-character password and 200 years to crack a simple 12 character password.  In 2019, with computer speeds ever-improving, those times will be shorter. Take a look at this infographic for more details.password mistakes
  9. Don’t use your name or your birthday, or any personal information.
  10. Don’t use your mother’s maiden name. In the last century, most women were married and took their husband’s name.  In 2019, that’s all changed.  Along with other personal information, figuring out your mom’s last name is pretty easy.  Just take a look at one of your Facebook acquaintances for a few minutes. You’ll be able to figure out their mom’s name as well as other personal information in no time at all.

Which of these password mistakes have you made?  Are there others I should have included?  Let me know in the comments below!

Please share this with your brother-in-law, who is making these password mistakes!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

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

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Wireless Keyboard – Buying Guide, Seven Features, and our Recommendations

We received a call recently from a long-time customer who wanted to upgrade his wireless keyboard.  That was all the push Chris needed to do some research for a new toy!  But, before I reveal what his new favorite is, let’s talk a little about seven different features you might look for in a new wireless keyboard.wireless keyboard

1 – Mouse:

First, you need to decide if you want the keyboard to be paired with a mouse. The benefit is that you would only have to use one USB port on your machine.  The downside is that not all keyboards come with a mouse, and you may decide that the wireless keyboard you can’t live without, doesn’t have a mouse.

2 – Ten-Key:

What’s your preference?  Using the numbers along the row above the letters, or do you prefer to use the number pad off to the right of a standard keyboard?

3 – Media Keys:wireless keyboard

Do you want to manage additional tasks from your keyboard?  I like that I can control the volume from my keyboard, I can open a window to send a new email, I can open a new browser window, and so much more.

4 – Backlight:

Do you often work in a darkened room?  You may want to consider a backlit keyboard.  The laptops that Chris has been designing recently all come with a backlit keyboard, which is useful when you’re working in bed next to your sleeping spouse.  If you primarily use your wireless keyboard at your desk, you probably don’t need a backlight.

5 – Size:

How big of a keyboard do you want?  Do you want a portable one that clips onto your tablet?  Should it be foldable to fit into your backpack? Or do you want a full-sized wireless keyboard that you can leave on your desk?

6 – Tactile Response:

Clicking?  Silent?  If this is important to you, make sure you know ahead of time what the keyboard will do.wireless keyboard - Logitech MK 320

7 – Ergonomics:

If you have issues with carpal tunnel or spend all day typing, you may want to look for a keyboard that has a unique design to keep your wrists in the proper position while typing.

I have a laptop.  I don’t need a separate wireless keyboard!

That’s what I used to think.  But my laptop is on the small side, and the keyboard is too.  My fingers were continually confusing keys and mis-spelling words.  Worst of all, the heal of my hand would accidentally touch the keypad, and the mouse would go flying to a different part of the screen.  It was very frustrating.  I’ve since learned that I’m not the only one to experience this.  I solved this by purchasing a wireless keyboard, which is the size of a conventional keyboard, and works well for me.

Geek For Hire Recommendations:

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.

  • Chris’ new favorite keyboard is called the Logitech Craft.  It has a funky knob on the top left side which allows you to adjust images in Photoshop or Illustrator. It has a backlit keyboard and (WHAT?!) can manage up to three devices from the single wireless keyboard!  It’s compatible with both Mac’s and PCs.   This one retails for $199, but Amazon and Best Buy currently have it priced at $170.  I’ve seen it on other sites at prices ranging from $179 to $199
  • The wireless keyboard I had been using for the past few years suddenly died last month.  I purchased a Logitech MK320, and I love it. It came paired with a mouse, which means only one USB thingie.  That’s important to me because my laptop only has three USB ports.  It has a separate ten-key which I like.  And, as I mentioned above, I can manage more than just typing with this device! The keys are big enough that my fingers to confuse the “m” and the “n.”  Overall, I like it and loved the price.  It retails for $40, but Amazon currently has it priced at $32 and Best Buy for $25.
  • If you’re looking for a great keyboard for your kids, the wired LearningBoard keyboard comes highly recommended.  It encourages learning and has very good reviews.  Amazon has it for about $ 40.
  • Don’t forget to check pricing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These keyboards may be discounted!

Please forward this to your colleague who constantly has spelling mistakes.

Note:  This guide to purchasing a wireless keyboard was initially published on 15 January 2109 and updated on 17 October 2019.

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (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 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.

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Quick Buyers Guide on Bluetooth Speakers

Have you ever been listening to music on your phone or watching Netflix on your tablet and wished for better sound?  Me too. And that’s where Bluetooth speakers come in.

Please note: We will often recommend products, parts, and resources that we like.  Sometimes we’ll receive an affiliate commission for at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

My favorite Bluetooth Speaker:

Several years ago, I got a JBL Charge 2 as a gift for Chris and promptly claimed it as my own! It was small and compact and had great sound. And it was red, my favorite color!  I think I got it for about $100 at Best Buy. I loved it!  Then suddenly last year it just stopped receiving a charge. Talk about giving up the ghost! I needed to find something else.

So, I did a little research and decided on the JBL flip 4.  It’s smaller than the Charge 2, but that’s fine because it fits perfectly in the cupholder.  It has excellent sound, and the battery lasts forever.  I mostly use it in my Sprinter (camper van).  On road trips, I use it primarily to listen to audiobooks (during the day while driving), and watching Amazon Prime Videos at night. It lists for about $100. though Amazon has it for $90 and Best Buy has it for $100.

JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth SpeakersChris has fallen in love with the JBL Pulse 4. It’s a light show in a speaker!  You can change the color scheme in an app, and you can hook up several of these speakers together.  It is also waterproof.  Frankly, I find the pulsing light distracting, and I’ll stick with the Flip 4.  This one lists for around $300. Best Buy has it for $230 and Amazon has it for around $250.  Here’s the review that turned Chris on to this speaker.

Bargain Bluetooth Speakers:

Both of those bluetooth speakers are a little pricey. If you’re looking for a speaker that is under $25, you’re in luck because I’ve done a little sleuthing on Amazon for you. Remember though, that excellent sound quality requires expensive electronics. If you’re an audiophile, these are not good choices for you!

(You might wonder how I can recommend a product that I haven’t used myself.  I head over to Amazon and look for a specific product. Then I refine the results to only look at items rated 4 stars or higher. Then I look at the number of ratings. So a product with 1000 reviews and 4.8 stars gets more credence than a product with two reviews and 5 stars. Finally, I look at the 1-star reviews and see if any of those are deal-breakers for me.)

Here are two bluetooth speakers that I feel safe recommending. Either of them would make great stocking stuffers and there may be even better pricing on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

XLeader:

The XLeader sells for about $16.  It received 4.5 stars from over 4700 reviews. It comes in black and rose gold. Some of the common reviews say that it is easy to set up, it’s small with big sound,

The biggest con I could find is that the speaker is on the bottom of the unit, which is fine when placed on a hard surface. This reviewer laid it out pretty well:

“Speaker is at the bottom of the unit so you cannot keep it on your couch or bed or any fabric. It has to be on a solid surface, or else the sound will be muffled.”

Oontz:

The highest-rated Bluetooth speaker in this price range is the Oontz Angle 3. It’s got a whopping 38,000 reviews with an average of 4.4 stars.  It has a long range – 100”, great sound, and is water-resistant. (Not waterproof!) It’s available in pink at this price, or you can pay a little more to get it in black, red, white, and orange. The biggest knock on this one is that the sound is not what you would get out a high-end speaker.

Bluetooth Speakers we don’t recommend:

Just for grins, I checked out the JBL Go and the Sony XB01 speakers.  Both are in the price range, and both have above 4.5 stars.  After reading the reviews though, I just can’t recommend either of them.

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Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past 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 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) 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 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.

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The Latest in Tech News

There’s so much happening in the world of tech right now.  It’s hard to keep track.  Here are some of our favorite tech news sources and what they’re saying.

Mac Operating System

Chris’ favorite tech news site is ArsTechnica.  This week they have a review of the newest Operating System for Apple computers. macOS 10.15 has been dubbed Catalina.

“Catalina moves macOS further and more decisively in the direction of iOS than ever; for the first time, third-party code written for iOS and iPadOS can run on the Mac with relatively few changes. At the same time, Apple remains adamant that the Mac and iOS/iPadOS are separate platforms that differ in ways that go beyond the underlying processor architecture or the primary input mechanism.”

tech newsGalaxies

Another article in ArsTechnica explains some of the research about nearby galaxies.

“The large galaxies present in the current Universe weren’t always so big. Evidence indicates that they were built up over time, largely by collisions with other galaxies. These collisions have left marks that we can still detect: streams of stars that were drawn in from the victims of the collisions, and faint dwarf galaxies that still orbit the larger object that devoured many of their stars. With enough data, it’s possible to become a galactic historian and reconstruct the events that brought the modern-day giants to their present form.”

Tech News and Processors

I like Gizmodo.  Here’s an article about new processors from Intel, with better performance and lower prices to attract more gamers.

“Last week news broke that Intel had a whole new line of X-series processors, and this week the company has performance data, prices, and a shiny new Xeon processor to pile on top of that. All of it combines to suggest that Intel is might be done gouging people who want a processor with a lot of cores.”

Digital Privacy

I also like the NY Times Technology section. There’s an excellent article about digital and internet privacy and how you can make things more secure.  It’s an excellent read.

“It’s perfectly legitimate, by the way, to enjoy seeing ads that align with your interests. You could argue that they’re actually more useful than irrelevant ones. But millions of others are creeped out by the tracking that produces those targeted ads.”

The NY Times also wrote about how the new iPhone OS will help you safeguard your digital privacy.

“For iPhones, that’s especially true now. That’s because Apple’s iOS 13, the most recent mobile software for iPhones, arrived last week. Similar updates to iPadOS, the operating system for iPads, were released this week. And they offer many new tools that help safeguard our digital privacy.”

Windows 7

Don’t forget that Microsoft will discontinue support of Windows 7 in three months.  Here’s a recent blog about how you can approach that if you haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 yet.

“The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product.”

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Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

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

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Tech for Seniors – Resources

I’ll bet you didn’t know that October 1st has been designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Older People. (UNIDOP for short!) When I found that out, it got me thinking about Tech for Seniors.  Many of our customers are Seniors. Just like every other demographic, they are all different.  Some of them call and say “I’m in my late 50’s and too old to learn this new technology,” while others are still working and adopting new technology well into their 70’s and 80’s!

United Nations 60+ Counts logo - Tech for seniors

Tech for Seniors – Resources:

Over time, we have found some resources to help our older customers.  Here are just a few:

(Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

  • Set up your Alexa / Echo / Siri to call a trusted contact when you can’t get to the phone.  Keep in mind that it won’t be able to call 911 for you, but it could call a family member or neighbor. Check out this blog I wrote about why you can’t use Alexa to call 911.
  • At your next family gathering, ask your grandkids to show you how to use Facetime.  That way you can have a video chat with them very easily throughout the year.
  • You should also make sure your computer keyboard fits your needs.  I’ve talked to several people who have a separate keyboard and mouse even though they have a laptop.  Laptops are getting smaller and the keyboards are almost too small to type on!  After I made many (MANY!) fat-finger mistakes on my laptop, I got a wireless keyboard and mouse which helped immensely.  I wrote a post about wireless keyboards earlier this year.
  • Head over to your local bookstore or even Amazon and browse some of the “Dummy” or “Idiot” books for help with specific topics.  I also like David Pogue’s “Missing Manual” series.  I got turned on to them when I got my first iPhone and couldn’t figure out how to do anything.  It was very helpful!
  • Check with your local senior group, library, or Chamber of Commerce. They probably have classes on Social Media, photography, email, and other subjects that you may need help with. (Save the phone calls to your granddaughter for the tech emergencies!)
  • Then, cultivate a relationship with a tech expert that can come to you and fix problems and provide some training.  Ask your friends for recommendations.

Conclusion:

You know how they say that age is a state of mind?  Take your tech one step at a time.  Learn it in little bits and be open to finding out new ways to do things.  Before you know it you’ll be teaching your kids a thing or two!

Please share this with your “older” friends!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

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

Please follow and like us:
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