Windows 10 Upgrade

If you’ve got any version of Windows, from XP to Windows 8, you’ve likely seen the new little icon on the bottom of your screen. It looks something like this:

Get Windows 10The current information available is that this is a free upgrade offer from Microsoft It is available for a limited time.  After the free offer expires, the upgrade will cost around $200.  Microsoft is saying that the upgrade will be ready on July 29th.

I asked Chris why our customers should (or should not) upgrade to Windows 10.  Here’s what he said.

Reasons to get the Windows 10 upgrade:

  1. It’s a free way to get the next version of the Windows operating system.  My computer has Windows 7 Professional 64 bit, and I was presented with the choice to receive the new operating system as a free upgrade.
  2. This is the general direction of where Microsoft is going with the operating system, and you are probably better off with it than without it.
  3. There has been discussion about the Windows 10 user interface being more like Windows 7 than Windows 8. Since Windows 10 has not yet been released to the public, what it is is still an unknown.

Reasons not to get it:

  1. If you have applications which require Windows 7 or XP, or there is concern because those applications have not yet been tested to work with Windows 10.
  2. If you need to reinstall the operating system onto your hard drive or SSD in the future, you’ll have to install the previous version of the Operating System, but may not be able to receive the update to Windows 10 without paying for it.

The upgrade may not include an installation disk, which would allow a clean install of the Windows 10 operating system in the future.

More information about the upgrade can be found on Microsoft’s website. http://www.microsoft.com/EN-US/windows

Apple has been offering OS upgrades as digital downloads through their App Store for years, and no one is complaining.  The no-media upgrade process tends to work, even though it takes several hours to download (1-4H depending on the speed of your line to the Internet) and install (1-2H depending on the speed of your computer and the speed of your hard drive).

However, I think this will be the first Operating System upgrade that Microsoft is doing that is a digital download.  The Windows Operating System Upgrade is inherently more complex than the Apple Operating System Upgrade, because Windows runs on many more machines from different manufacturers (Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, HP,  etc., etc.,) than the Apple software does (which is exactly one: Mac’s).  The Apple environment is proprietary and “closed”, eg: you are licensed to only run the Apple Operating System on Apple hardware, where the Microsoft Operating System does not have this constraint.  Apple doesn’t charge for new versions of their Operating System, but Microsoft traditionally has.

Let us know if you have any questions about Windows 10!

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

Throw Away Technology

I was brought up by parents who grew up during the Depression in New England, and the Puritan frugality was bred pretty deeply in me.  The whole “Reduce / Reuse / Recycle” motto was just the way things were during my childhood – especially Reduce and Reuse.  Nothing was every thrown away that might have another use sometime in the future.  Protecting the environment by keeping things out of landfills was just a fortunate by-product!

Which is why I sometimes think our business is the perfect business for me. We help people repair or enhance their current equipment rather than dumping it and getting something new. Sometimes, it’s just one component that needs to be replaced, and that’s something we can easily do.

  • An older computer can have a new hard drive added to provide more storage, rather than getting a whole new computer.
  • Or, it can have a RAM upgrade to help it perform faster.
  • Or, change out the keyboard or screen on a laptop when they break.

However, with some of the technology being sold today, they are just not being built to be repaired! Some companies are now using cheap plastic clips to hold things together rather than the teeny metal screws. Extra care must be taken to remove the clips so that they don’t break or snap, and putting them back together again can be a challenge. This adds extra time to the repair work, and makes the repair bill more expensive. And to all of those folks out there who say “It’ll cost $200 to fix my keyboard? I can get a new machine for that!”, I remind you that you get what you pay for.

We’ll always tell you when it’s more cost effective for you to replace rather than repair. For example, it’s almost always more cost effective to replace a broken printer then to repair it. A broken keyboard can go either way. If you’re like me though, the cost to replace will always include the environmental impact of adding to the trash heap.

If you’re wondering what kinds of services we can provide, please check out our services page.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has  been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area. They can provide remote service throughout North America.

Smokin’ Hot iPhone!

Last week my nephew shared a story about an iPhone in his town of Philly that had burst into flames in a young girls pocket.

Twelve-year-old Alexis Rolon has had her iPhone 5C since November and was carrying it in her back pants pocket when it started burning, giving her second-degree burns.

Since I had an iPhone last year that would get very, very hot, I wondered what the frequency is of cellphone fires and did a little research.

My search turned up several stories.

Another middle-school student in Maine had the same experience as Alexis with her new iPhone 5C.

She sat down in class with her phone in her back pocket.  She heard a “popping” sound, and then felt a burning sensation.  She was trained well, and did the “drop and roll” thing, though I think taking the phone out of her pocket should have been her first priority!

Remember when the iPhone 6 first came out and it had a problem with bending? Here’s an extreme case of “bendgate”:

Last October, an iPhone 6 exploded, then started burning in a man’s front pants pocket. He was in a minor accident and landed against a metal bar which bent the phone. Right after than the phone exploded and left him with first and second-degree burns.

Another story, this time it wasn’t in a pants pocket:

Last August a young girl had stored her iPhone 5 in her purse prior to boarding a plane for a flight from Israel. When the cabin of the plane started filling up with smoke, the girl realized the smoke was coming from her purse. When she opened the purse, flames were clearly visible. The airline blamed it on the lithium battery, though other stories blame it on a faulty screen replacement.

All of these stories make me really glad the Chris made me take my iPhone 5 in to be

Boulder, CO Apple store
Boulder, CO Apple store

checked last fall. It had been getting increasingly hot, and I was noticing that the screen was lifting up off of the body of the phone. We brought it into the Apple store in Boulder and made an appointment to have it looked at by one of their techs at the Genius Bar. Sure enough, the battery had expanded and actually pushing the glass screen up and away from the body of the phone. Apple replaced the battery and the screen under warranty. My phone no longer over-heated and I had a new scratch-free screen!

The moral of the story: If your iPhone is feeling hot or you notice something off about it, bring it in to one of Apple’s retail stores and get it checked out. Prior to bringing it in, sync your iPhone in case they need to restore it to factory settings. Also, if you can, remember to go online and make an appointment ahead of time. That will save you the three hour wait I had for my appointment time. If they do determine that it needs to be repaired, you’ll need to leave it with them and pick it up when they’re done, usually an hour or two later.

Questions? Comments? Post them below.

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

Beware of Click Bait!

This morning, I was doing one of my morning rituals which includes reading through the recent posts on Facebook, and found that a friend of mine who lives on the east coast, liked a story. I worked with him many years ago. He was the manager of a major project which I worked on for many years. This was the largest project in my career, and I know that this system is still “alive” today because I have served a local customer twice who is dispatched by this system. Since I respect my friend, and he doesn’t casually like everything, the things that he does like tends to get my attention. The first thing I did was to like the story too.

The story told of a mother beating her son on national television because he was participating in the recent riots in Baltimore. My friend liked it, so it must be legit. I clicked on the link to the story, which went to a blogsite which I had never seen or heard of before. The content of the page had only a brief retelling of the title of the story, plus several advertisements, but there was no link to the salacious original video that grabbed my attention. Since I didn’t see what I expected, I thought this was a problem with the tight security settings of my daily browser (Firefox, with several add-ons), so I copied the URL from my “high security” browser and pasted it into my “low security” browser which works with everything (Internet Explorer), and fetched the page. The same page was displayed, but this time with many popup advertisements (pop-over and pop-under) which were really concerning to me. There was no salacious video or a link to it. I shut this down fast.

Still being interested in the salacious story, I went to YouTube and searched for the general words of the title of the story, and found several direct links to the video – without additional advertisement or commentary.

In this case, I fell prey to “Click Bait”. I saw a story that interested me, thought it was legit, and clicked on it. It wasn’t legit. I will be doing a total system scan of my computer to check for any residual nastiness.

If you think you’ve fallen prey to “Click Bait”, the best thing to do is to scan your machine for anything malicious. If you need help, give us a call!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has  been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area. They can provide remote service throughout North America.

What Is a Solid State Drive and Why Do I Need One?

For the past five years or so, whenever Chris had to replace a hard drive in a Mac or PC, or is designing a new computer for a customer, he always recommends that they get a Solid State Drive (SSD), rather than the traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD).   Why?

First of all, here’s a great explanation from PC Magazine of how a HDD saves your data:

“The traditional spinning hard drive (HDD) is the basic nonvolatile storage on a computer. That is, it doesn’t “go away” like the data on the system memory when you turn the system off. Hard drives are essentially metal platters with a magnetic coating. That coating stores your data, whether that data consists of weather reports from the last century, a high-definition copy of the Star Wars trilogy, or your digital music collection. A read/write head on an arm accesses the data while the platters are spinning in a hard drive enclosure.”

And here’s a description from TechTerms on how the Solid State Drive works:

“While SSDs serve the same function as hard drives, their internal components are much different. Unlike hard drives, SSDs do not have any moving parts (which is why they are called solid state drives). Instead of storing data on magnetic platters, SSDs store data using flash memory. Since SSDs have no moving parts, they don’t have to “spin up” while in a sleep state and they don’t need to move a drive head to different parts of the drive to access data. Therefore, SSDs can access data faster than HDDs.”

For a long time, I just didn’t get it. Why is “newer” always “better” for these geeks?! Chris patiently explained to me some of the benefits.

More Robust:
Because a Solid State Drive has no moving parts, there aren’t any parts to break. This makes the SSD perfect for those who don’t count “grace” as one of their better qualities. It’s also a better choice for frequent travelers

Speed:
SSD’s are faster. I’ve read that they are 100 times faster than HDD’s. Machines with an SSD will boot faster, open programs faster, transfer files faster. Games process more quickly too. When seconds count, choose an SSD.

Lighter:
When you’re lugging a laptop through an airport, you want to shed every excess ounce that you can.  SSD’s weigh slightly less than the HDD’s.

Downside:
SSD’s are more expensive to purchase than HDD’s. But, considering that the SSD will last longer, that’s only a short term problem.

Here are some additional articles on why the SSD is a better choice:
PC Magazine / OCZ / ThinLabs

Purchasing Recommendations:
If you are looking into purchasing a new SSD, C|NET has some great recommendations here.

Once you get your new SSD, we can help you install it – just give us a call!

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

What Do I Do With My MF (Multi-Function) PRINTER?!

No matter where I am, when I mention what I do, the questions start flying. Last Sunday, the conversation centered around printers.

The problem with printers these days is they are designed to be a throw-away appliance. The cheaper ones may last for a year or two, but even the more expensive ones can break down, and then it’s more efficient to just get a new one.

Here are some of the common printer problems:

Paper Jam
If you have a paper jam, the first thing to do is to pull out the paper holder. Sometimes the paper is just stuck coming out of the holder. If that doesn’t work, carefully open up your machine and turn all the knobs and wheels that move the paper forward. If you can see where the paper is stuck, carefully give the paper a little tug to see if you can pull it out. If it feels like it might start to tear, stop pulling. Continue moving the knobs and wheels until the entire piece of paper has been removed. In rare cases, the jam is so severe that the paper cannot be removed.  In equally rare cases, the paper may bend some of the metal bars.   In that case, it’s probably time to look for a new printer.

Driver upgrade
Sometimes, with both Mac and Windows machines, your computer will take an upgrade overnight which then requires a new software printer driver for your printer.   Go to your printer’s website – Hewlett Packard, Dell, Brother, etc. – and download the new software. Once you have downloaded and installed the software, your printer should work again.

Wireless printer won’t connect to the wifi
If your computer suddenly can’t find your wireless printer, somehow the printer lost its connection to the Wi-Fi router.  Input your Wi-Fi code into the printer control panel and you should be good to go.

Printer won’t turn on
Sometimes a printer just won’t turn on. Check all of the connections. Is it plugged into the wall? Is the cord firmly pushed into the back of the printer?  You might need to try a hardware reset of the printer back to its default settings.  If it still won’t turn on, remove the power cord and let it rest for a little while or over night. If it still won’t turn on, it’s time to get a new printer.

New Printer?
What do you look for in a new printer? There are several options, which depend on your preferences and requirements:

  • Ink Jet vs. Laser
  • Black vs. 4-color
  • Printer only vs. Multi-Function (Copy, Print, Scan, Fax)

I really only have strong opinions about the first option. Get a laser printer. Yes, they are a little more expensive to purchase, but they cost less to operate in the long run. In addition, the ink in a laser printer doesn’t dry out. If you only use your printer occasionally, the ink in an ink jet printer will dry out (because it is water-based) and you’ll need to purchase ink much more frequently.

Of course, we can help you with  your printer issues.  Give us a call and give me a run-down of the symptoms.  If it can be fixed in a reasonable amount of time, I’ll let you know.  If not, I’ll let you know that too.

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

The Geek That Calls You Back – and Other True Stories

We get calls all the time from people who say “I’ve had this problem for a week, but my regular geek isn’t getting back to me.”  When people say that, it always makes me wonder.  How can you expect your customers to treat you with respect when you have a sub-standard level of professionalism?  We provide a professional service and treat our customers how we want to be treated.

The geek that lets you shoulder surf:  Chris likes for our customers to know more after their service than they did before. Ask questions! Chris will answer them, but more than that…

The geek that treats you like an intelligent human:  We’ve all seen that show where the geek comes to fix your computer and makes fun of you because you don’t know the difference between a RAM and a gig. Chris knows that you’re an intelligent person who has skills in areas other than fixing computers. He treats you with respect and kindness.

The geek that’s not on commission:  When you bring your computer to a “big box store” for repair, everyone you talk to is probably earning a commission. It’s in their best interests to tell you that your computer can’t be repaired, or that you’d be better off with this new computer on the shelf over there.

The geek that comes to your home:  Have you had a problem with your computer and you pack it up and bring it in to the store, but the problem magically disappears? Then comes back when you get it back home? Even laptops, which are supposed to “work everywhere”, will have issues only in one place. When we come to your home, all the problems that were there yesterday, won’t mysteriously disappear just because we walk through the door!

The geek with 30+ years of experience:  Yup, you read that number correctly. It makes me laugh when I see an IT company with two geeks that proclaim “OVER 15 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE!!” (Each geek has worked with computers for 7 or 8 years.)  Chris has been working with computers since high school.  He has kept up-to-date with changes over the years. Today, he’s just as comfortable with a MacPro or a Surface as he is with the old PDP-11.

The geek that’s been around for over 15 years:  We intend to be around for a lot more. That means consistent service for you from someone who knows you and knows how you work. There’s a trust there that’s built over the years.  We watch your kids grow up. There’s an honor about being let into our customer’s lives. We grieve with you when your house gets flooded or is in the middle of a wildfire. We celebrate with you when you get a new puppy, or your kids graduate from high school.

And, we know computers, and we’ll call you back.

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

Outsmarting The Hackers

Hackers are getting smarter and are finding it easier to log into your email, bank and social media accounts.  For that reason, it is so important to regularly change your passwords on all of your accounts.  If you think any of your accounts may have been hacked, change your password recovery email as well.

Some people have a hard time remembering their passwords.  I’ve found that it is a good idea to use a couple of different words which are significant to you, but change it up a bit.   Use numbers, symbols, and capital letters to make the password harder to guess, but easy for you to remember.  As an example, using the word ““PASSWORD””, I’ll show you how easy it is to change a common word into a secure password for you:

  • P@55w0rd! –  Capitalize the first letter, change the ““a”” to  the @ symbol, change the two S’s to 5’s, change the “o” to a zero, and add an exclamation on the end.
  • P@55W0rd! – – Capitalize the first letter, change the “a” to  the @ symbol, change the two S’s to 5’s, Capitalize the “W”, change the “o” to a zero, and add an exclamation on the end.
  • !P@55w0rd! – – Start with an exclamation point, Capitalize the first letter, change the “a” to  the @ symbol, change the two S’s to 5’s, change the “o” to a zero, and add an exclamation on the end.

When you use this system, you can change it monthly by adding the date.  For example, add “April”, or “04” to the end.

It’s also better to use more than one word.  Sometimes when Chris is setting up a new password he will use the title of a nearby book.  For example, Mark Reisner’s “Cadillac Desert” is on my desk right now.  Using Chris’ system, my new password could be:

  • CadillacDesert – with the first letter of each word capitalized and no spaces.
  • Cadillac Desert – with the first letter of each word capitalized and one space between the two words.
  • Cadillac_Desert – with the first letter of each word capitalized and the underscore symbol between the two words.
  • C@dill@cDesert – with the first letter of each word capitalized and the “a” turned into the @ symbol.

You get the idea!  Play around with some possible passwords for you.  Once you have a few that work and that you can easily remember, it will be easy to change it up on a regular basis and to keep your online life that much more secure!

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

Repair vs. Replace: Time to Get a New Mac?

We’re often asked when a customer should repair their current computer vs. just getting a new one. It’s a hard decision to make. If we’re able to fix it in a reasonable amount of time, we’ll always recommend not replacing. But “reasonable amount of time” varies from person to person.

Chris Eddy adds: “My standard recommendation is to keep the machine, until it fails to serve well as a tool, or is too expensive to repair. “

Here’s a case study for a recent customer considering a new Mac.

The customer had an older (2008) MacBook and wanted to know whether to upgrade it or replace it.  It generally worked fine and performed adequately for most tasks, but the customer was encountering more times when they would be waiting for things to complete, and they were concerned about whether it would be adequate for installing and using SketchUp in the future.

General Findings:

  • Cosmetically, the machine was in beautiful condition.  A backlit keyboard was not available at the time the machine was made and it’s a nice touch to have in a darkened room, but not the only reason to consider a new machine.
  • The hard drive still had about 80% of free space on it, so free disk space wasn’t a problem.  I tested the hard drive, and no errors were found within 5 minutes, which is a good sign that the machine was probably not in danger of immediate detonation.
  • The machine had 4GB of RAM in it, which is the physical maximum amount of RAM that the machine can use.
  • Current Ram usage was at about 50%, which should support SketchUp Ram-wise. Any current performance difficulties the machine currently has will not be improved by the addition  of SketchUp.

Monitor:

  • The customer wants to use a larger monitor than the 13″ display that this notebook machine has.   It’s a nice screen, but it’s not enough screen real-estate for future use.
  • The customer could be served by a new Apple notebook computer with an external monitor.
  • The current Macbook Air can come with an 11″ or 13″ screen size, and the current Macbook Pro can come with a 13″ or 15″ screen size.
  • Another option for this customer is to possibly get an iMac, which is an all-in-one desktop computer that can come with a monitor size of 22″ or 27″.  Both monitors are large and beautiful.
  • The choice of external monitor could be either an Apple monitor, which will be beautiful – but expensive because the Apple “Premium” is alive and well.  A large monitor from a different manufacturer could be gotten from the open market, at a lower cost and still be good quality.  Dell makes some absolutely beautiful monitors, especially the “U” line of monitors, and we get 30% discounts from Dell – which we pass on directly to our customers.

Keeping your old machine once you get a new one:

There is value in having one machine rather than two, because this is a major “life simplification”; all of your programs and your data is in one place rather than two, and you don’t have to worry about synchronizing the two machines.  If something does go wrong you can focus on one machine rather than two.  Sometimes people just want to keep their “old” machines as a backup. Or they want to keep the old machine to access old data, or keep the old hard drive to keep an archival copy of the historical record of your old data. My standard recommendation is to not keep the old machine, but do keep the old hard drive for at least a few months.  Migrate to the new machine, and enjoy it. You probably won’t ever go back to the old machine.  (If you do, you’ll soon remember why you replaced it!)

SSD:

Regardless of which machine you get, always upgrade to a Solid State Drive. The SSD performs /much/ faster than a physical hard drive, and even the Fusion drive will start to slow down soon after the machine is brought home.  The SSD will provide the most consistent good performance over time, however it will be more expensive – remember the “Apple Premium”.

The new MacPro:

One possible option is the new MacPro. This is Apple’s new “Desktop” computer. (…and it looks like a small trash can!)    The MacPro is a very quick computer and can be ordered with features that will make it outrageously fast – but remember the “Apple Premium”.Mac Pro screen capture

Buying Strategy:

If you do decide it’s time for a new Mac, head to the Apple store. BUT, go there with the specific intent of /not/ buying today.  I’ve found that there is a reality distortion field within the store that has subtle influences to motivate you to want to buy a new machine right there and right now.

If you find something you like, fine, but buy it tomorrow – not today.  This is going to be an expensive purchase of a new tool, and you are going to have it for a long time. It’s in your best interests to let the thinking of this new tool “Marinate” in your brain for at least 24 hours before actually pulling the trigger and getting the tool.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years.  His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service to the Denver /  Boulder /  Front Range area.  They can provide remote service throughout North America.