Hacked Email? Check your “Rules”

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

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

HACKED EMAIL – CHECKING IN:

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

Hacked email example - need a favor

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

email hacking example - Apple card for neice

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

Super-Geek To The Rescue:

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

Hacked email - unusual activity from Nigeria

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

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

Hacked email - account rules changed and archive message

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

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

HEY THERE?

Here’s another hacked email we received:

Hacked Email Example - slick get back to me asap

 

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

FAVOR TO ASK!

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

Hacked email example - another Favor to Ask

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

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

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

FAVOR TO ASK?

We also received this similar message from a hacked email:

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

GREETINGS

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

Another example requesting a Home Depot card

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR EMAIL INBOX:

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION: 

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

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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

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Spring Cleaning Your Tech – 5 Easy Tips!

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

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

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

Spring Cleaning Your Tech – aka Computer Maintenance:

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

Dropbox:

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

More Tips:

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

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

Conclusion: 

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

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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

More Tips Here:

Daylight Savings Time – Atomic Clocks Reviewed

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

I ended up getting three different atomic clocks connected to NIST. Two I like. The third one I am planning on returning as soon as the driveway is shoveled and I can get into town!

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

WALLERGE ATOMIC CLOCK:

The first one to arrive was this one from WallerGe:

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

MARATHON ATOMIC CLOCK:

Once I realized I wanted a clock that would light up at night I ordered two more. The Marathon clock was about $40.


I really like this one. It came with batteries so I set it up right out of the box. I clicked the button to get the atomic time reading from NIST and it updated right away. I put it in the bedroom and when I wake up in the middle of the night I can easily read the time, even without my glasses. There are three settings for the light; off, high, and low. There is a little sensor on the front that can tell if it’s dark or not. When it’s dark, the light turns on. It’s got six times zones to choose from, so it works anywhere from Newfoundland to the west coast – all of Canada, Mexico, and most of the continental US. (Sorry, Alaska and Hawaii. You’ll need a different clock!)

LACROSSE TECHNOLOGY ATOMIC CLOCK:

The last one we tried out from La Crosse Technology was the worst.


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

Conclusion: 

Now is a great time to get an atomic clock that you don’t have to reset after every power outage or Daylight Savings Time (DST) change.

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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

More Tips Here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monitor:

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

Mouse and Keyboard:

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

Printer:

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

Conclusion – It’s OK to Love Your Computer:

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

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

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

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

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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

More Tips Here:

Book Review: Extreme Privacy

Many of you know that Privacy and Security are paramount to me. So when I saw Extreme Privacy on Amazon I was intrigued. Michael Bazzell completely updated the second edition of Extreme Privacy in 2020.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Extreme Privacy Overview:

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

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

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

What I learned:

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

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

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

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

What I liked:

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

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

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

 

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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

More Tips Here:

TECH TRENDS: A Look Back – 2020 Tech Review

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

2020 Tech:

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

Conference Services:

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

WiFi:

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

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

Streaming Movies:

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

2020 Tech – What Technology was new in 2020:

Battery Life:

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

M1 Chip:

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

5G:

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

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

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

Want to read more?

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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

Hacked Password – Why I like Google Chrome now

Would you know if you have a hacked password? Well, Google does!

I’m relatively new to using Google’s Chrome, so when I want to do something that is second nature using Firefox, I struggle! I clicked on the three little buttons in the top right corner to open the settings. Then I tried to figure out what I needed to do.

Boy, was I surprised!

I got a warning message saying that two of my accounts had a hacked password. Of course, these two are the same account. The only difference is that the smile.amazon.com account gives my favorite charity a donation every time I make a purchase.  (Head over to https://nederlandfoodpantry.org/ and, if you can, donate too.)hacked password alert from Google Chrome

What I did after I found out I had a Hacked Password:

Once I saw that warning message, I quickly opened a new window on the Chrome browser and changed my Amazon password.

Then I reviewed all of my settings to ensure my payment and shipping information were still the way I wanted it.

If you want to see which passwords you have saved in your Chrome browser, click on the three little dots, select “Settings,” and then select “Passwords.”

What the Geek thinks of Google:

By the way, Chris is not a fan of Google. He thinks the company has too much access to our personal information. His preferred browser is Firefox, and his preferred search engine is Duck Duck Go. Also, he always has AdBlocker and NoScript turned on. These two applications help to keep your surfing experience much more secure.

Want to read more?

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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

New Apple Watch 6 – Geek For Hire’s Review

I traded in my old Apple Watch for the new Apple Watch 6 a few weeks ago. I got the one with GPS and cellular. Now that I’ve gotten used to it and its functions, I think it’s time for a review. (As an Amazon Associate, and we earn from qualifying purchases.)

What I Like About My New Apple Watch 6:

Blood Oxygen:

The Apple Watch 6 measures your blood oxygen percentage. I never realized how important this measurement was until Chris’ mom moved in with us. Moving from Long Island, NY, at sea level to 8500’ was hard for her. She began having issues with breathing and low-energy in general. Then her new doctor recommended that we get a pulse oximeter. This would help us measure her O2 regularly and know if she was in trouble. Twenty years later, I sometimes have issues with my O2 levels as well. My new watch helps me keep on top of the measurement. I also like that it tells me that it measures in a “high elevation environment.” It also measures my O2 sat when I’m asleep, as long as I’m not moving around while I am dreaming!

Watch Faces:

The new iWatch gives me the option to have different watch faces. There are probably 50 items you can track on the Apple Watch, but not all of them will fit on the watch face at one time. I have one watch face that tells me the time and date, of course, but it also tells me the local temperature, the Air Quality Index, wind speed, elevation, my next calendar item, and the current time in Rochester, NY, where much of my family lives. Another watch face only tells the time and rotates through about 20 favorite photos and videos. Another one tells me what time the sun and moon will rise and/or set.

Exercise:

New Apple Watch 6 - Close Your Rings every day

 

I really like the way the Apple Watch tracks exercise. It gets me motivated each day to “close my rings.” There are three rings: One for active movement, one for exercise minutes, and one for standing each hour. I’m able to change the goals for each one to keep the pressure on. Apple has also added challenges each month. They’re always stretch goals, but not undoable. I’m looking forward to earning the October challenge by exercising a certain number of minutes this month.

Heart Rate:

The watch still measures my heart rate almost continuously. It tells me my high and low heart rate for the day, it tells me my average resting heart rate, and it tells me my heart rate recovery time after exercising. This is another way I can keep track of my overall health.

Hand Washing:

I get a “thumbs up when I’ve washed my hands long enough!Apple Watch 6 - Thumbs up for handwashing!

Sleep:

The new Apple Watch 6 still links with the Pillow app so I can check my sleep quality at a glance. I think the Pillow app is more robust than the sleep information provided by the Fitbit.

Colors:

Red is my color, and I love having a red watch. My second favorite is the blue one shown above. (But Chris said I could only get one!) Other colors include gold, graphite, silver, and space grey.

Charging:

The Apple Watch 6 charges WAAAAAY faster than my previous Apple Watch! I got this cute silicone charging stand to hold my Watch on my nightstand.

Watchbands:

The watchbands are interchangeable with my old watch. That’s a good thing. I really didn’t like the red shade the new Apple Watch came with. I was easily able to swap the weird red bands for basic black. And, it’s easy to order replacement watch bands to dress it up or make it sportier.

What I Don’t Like the new Apple Watch 6:New Apple Watch 6 - enable screenshots

  1. With my old Apple Watch, I was just able to take screenshots. With the new Apple Watch 6, I needed to enable screenshots before that function would work.
  2. Siri is pretty intrusive and is constantly asking me what I need help with now.
  3. Sometimes when I’m really active, the watch asks me if I’ve taken a hard fall. Now, in general, I like this feature, and I’ve heard some great stories of people in the backcountry that have been rescued, but it seems a little too sensitive for me.
  4. Blood Oxygen measurement is not always accurate. Sometimes I’ll compare the measurement from my watch to the measurement with the pulse ox. About 20% of the time, the measurements are substantially different. I’m hoping that the Apple engineers are working on this and will push out an update to make it more accurate over time.
  5. I have to stay really, really still in order for the Watch to take an O2 measurement. I can’t take it when I’m exercising or in a moving car or when I’m moving around in any way at all.
  6. There isn’t an option to make the text on the Watch Face larger. My older eyes sometimes have a problem reading the data, especially the elevation!

How-To Book:

There are so many features on this new Apple watch. I got confused and overwhelmed when I was setting it up. This book helped me a lot. It’s available in paperback and Kindle format. I downloaded it to my Kindle which was good, because I had access to the information right away. The downside is that there weren’t links to the different sections of the book, so there was a lot of scrolling involved.

Important!

If you need help setting up your new Apple Watch, let us know. Here are some important things to remember:

  • If you’re trading in your old Apple Watch, remember to delete all of your personal data. (That’s what I did and the AT&T store gave me a great deal when buying it back.)
  • Back up your iPhone before setting up the new Watch and make sure it has the latest iOS.
  • Make sure you set up a passcode. The Apple Watch locks every time you take it off, which this security conscious gal says is a good thing!
  • The Apple Watch interacts with three separate apps on your iPhone;

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

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

 

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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

Important Tips if you want a new Apple Computer in 2020

Several customers have wanted a new Apple Computer recently. Chris helped them with their purchases and learned a thing or two about the current Mac buying process.

Customer Experience #1:

About two months ago, I served a customer who has been a long-term loyal Apple person. He wanted to get the new Apple computer because his roughly 7-year-old iMac had become slow. He went to the Apple Store and got a new iMac. I prepped his new machine and transferred his data. I found it was slow at the time, and told him this. He said he would work with it.

Investigation:

About two weeks later, he called back, saying that his new iMac was very slow. I came to inspect the machine and confirmed that it was glacially slow. It was much slower than his previous iMac. I found that this beautiful looking new machine, unfortunately, had an 8th generation Core i3 processor in it, which is slow, and a 5400 RPM physical hard drive, which is also very slow. These are important specifications that a “forward-leaning” company like Apple should not be selling. The machine he bought at the Apple Store is the kind of computer you want someone you don’t like to have.

I called the Apple Store where he bought the machine, and there was no answer after many calls. The call eventually rolled over to Apple Corporate, and after about 1-1.5 hours on hold, I was able to finally talk with someone at Apple Corporate.

Initial Findings:

I learned that Apple has a 14 day “no-questions-asked” return policy. But since the computer was bought from the store, rather than ordered through Apple Corporate, the return or exchange of the computer must be done through the store. Apple Corporate would not handle a return for a purchase made at the store. It was as if each Apple Store was independently owned and operated. This was not what we expected.purchasing a new Apple computer at the Boulder Apple store - outside shopping only

Also, it’s the “Time of Covid-19”, and the local Boulder Apple Store is closed, or at least not answering their phones. (At least four attempts were made.)

(In my opinion, this new iMac, which the customer had purchased by himself at the Store, was unworthy for him to keep because it performed so badly. This was a violation of the basic Apple premise of good performance from your computer. You expect to love any computer you get from Apple.)

Field Trip:

We drove to the local Apple Store in Boulder and found that no one was inside. There was an EZ-Up popup tent on the sidewalk, with a couple of Apple people talking with citizens. There were marks on the sidewalk for social distancing. They also had two security guards there who were not doing Apple business but were there to take a forehead temperature. We put our name in and explained that we wanted to return this machine and to get another iMac today.

After waiting for about half an hour, we were approached by a young man who handled the return. The return process was pretty clean and easy and was completed in 5-10 minutes.

He was personally a little prickly, maybe because he was surprised. (Who in their right mind wants to return an Apple anything, ever?)

Well, this was one of those times, and it was for cause – a substantial technical failure by inadequate capabilities of a new machine, which was much slower than his current 7-year-old machine.

He was mildly contemptuous that anyone might say Apple wasn’t great. We again asked him to process the return because this product is not being kept and we’re getting it done on day 14 – within the 14-day return policy.

Replacement Mac:

After he received the return, we began to talk about getting a replacement computer. Long story short: the Apple Store only had iMacs with physical hard drives in them. If we wanted a Solid State Drive in the computer, it would have to be ordered from Apple Corporate, and it would take about two weeks to arrive. (This was in mid-August.) The Apple employee could not receive that order. We would need to order it online.

We left, placed an online order with Apple Corporate, and the new Apple computer arrived about 10 days later. The new iMac performs impressively well, and the customer is delighted.

Customer Experience #2:

The picture below is for a different machine than the story above. It was purchased at the end of September 2020 and shows the estimated arrival timeiMac wait time for a new Apple computer is Nov 2 – Nov 9. Now, four to five weeks is a long time to wait so that you don’t get a physical hard drive in your new iMac. (Apple and other manufacturers are delayed in shipping machines.)

The customer called back the next morning, saying that he had talked with his family in Denver. They had found the exact same machine that he had ordered at a local technology store. He could get it today! I walked him through the important points to make sure it really was the same machine.

  • Did it come with a solid-state drive, or did it have a “fusion” drive or a physical hard drive?
  • Does it have the better 8th generation processor?
  • Did it come with enough RAM? (RAM can’t be upgraded later.)

He talked with his family, and no, the store did not have the computer with the better equipment which /is/ necessary. He will continue to wait a month for the new machine to arrive.

UPDATE: The customer’s machine arrived mid-October!

Here are Chris’ specific tips for buying a new Apple computer:

One:

Make sure that your Mac comes with a “Flash Drive” which is a full Solid State Drive (SSD). Do not get a “Fusion Drive,” which is a large Physical Hard Drive with a small Solid State Drive, which acts as a cache. The performance increase is poor. Do not get a Physical Hard Drive because it is /much/ slower than an SSD. Spend the money. Take the longer view. Get an SSD.

Two:

Make sure that it comes with a Core i7 processor, and not a Core i3 processor. As of right now, the iMac can come with either an 8th generation Core i3 processor or an 8th generation Core i7 processor. Both processors say “quad-core,” but the performance of the Core i7 processor is so /much/ better than the Core i3. It really is worth the extra $200.NOTE: The current Intel processor generation is the 11th generation, but the 10th generation has been commonly available on the open market for the past year.
Intel makes four lines of consumer processors: Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9.

    • Core i3 has low-end performance and low cost, do not get this processor unless your needs are really low
    • The Core i5 is a mid-pack processor that satisfies the needs of most normal people who want to use a computer and want to like the computer
    • Core i7 is a high-end, high-performance processor and will serve you nicely for most tasks
    • The Core i9 is uber-high-end and is expensive.

Three:

During the time of COVID, order your Apple computer from Apple Corporate, not from the local store. The Apple Store does not have the better computers. You have to go through Apple Corporate to get those. Also, getting access to the Apple Store during the time of COVID is impractically hard, and Apple Corporate will not help you return a purchase that you made at the Apple Store.

Four:

The current delay time (in September 2020) for ordering a new iMac from Apple Corporate is 4-5 weeks. IMHO: take the longer view, order the machine with the better features you actually want, bite the bullet, and wait for it to arrive.

Conclusion:

As most people already know, Apple has historically made really good computers. They aren’t cheap, and they tend to last a long time. I have several 10-year-old MacBook Pro and iMac computers that I’ve rebuilt with SSDs, and they perform competently in 2020. Granted, the speed of the SSD does nothing for the speed of the processor or the speed of the video card, but the operational speed of the old computer with a new SSD is definitely satisfactory in 2020.

But lately, I find that Apple has begun to cut corners on what they put into their computers. I see slow processors which are several generations old. I’ve also seen physical hard drives into the computer rather than a “Flash Drive” – which is also known as a Solid State Drive.

Computers are one of those “you get what you pay for” kinds of things. The Apple Premium is alive and well and has been for years. Apple offers discounts to no one. A recent customer wanted a new iMac. He is a long term professor at the local University. Apple offered him an Academic Discount of $50. (FYI, We get 35-50% discounts from Dell and a lower discount from other manufacturers. We always pass that discount on to our customers.)

If you need help navigating the process of getting a new Mac or PC, please let us know. This is just one of the services that we offer. And, if you’re wondering how to set up a new Apple computer, we can help with that as well.

 

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

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

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

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

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

Here’s a link to our Covid19 Policy.

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