What is a USB C Cable?

All of a sudden, I am noticing a lot of devices with a USB C cable. In fact, two devices I’ve purchased in the past year have come with a USB–C charging cable. One is a Verizon hotspot and the other is a magnetic charging platform for my phone. What is a Type C USB?

I’ve also noticed that many of the new computers our customers are ordering come with a USB-C charging cable instead of the standard clunky charging brick.

Photo of USB C Cable, Lightening Cable, and Micro USB cable

What is a USB?

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and the technology has been around since the 1990s. It was developed by several different companies including HP, Intel, AMD, and Microsoft. They worked in collaboration so that consumers would have a standard device for charging mobile devices. USBs are designed to work with devices that can be connected and disconnected at any time. The connected device will identify itself to the computer and automatically get and connect the right driver with the device.

What is USB-C and how is it different from other standard USB cables?

USB–C technology is relatively new. It was developed in 2013-2014, also in collaboration between competitive companies, this time including Apple and Google.

Most of the other USB cables only provide power and data. USB-C has all that, plus provides more power for faster charging, faster data for the capability for crisp video, and faster backups.

USB C cables are part of the reason why Thunderbolt docking stations are so popular. You can connect just one cable from the dock to your laptop and get fast powerful charging and all the data and video you could want.

Most Important Feature?

In my opinion, one of the best features of USB-C is that it is symetrical and omnidirectional! Like a Lightning cable, it will always work. No matter how many times you try to plug it in, it will always go in the correct way. For me, it’s the little things with good design that bring the most pleasure.

Chris says the best thing about USB-C is that it is fast-charging and delivers data (video, etc.) much faster.  It’s all about speed with the Geek!

What are some problems with a USB-C?

The biggest problem with a USB-C connector is that it is new and most people will need an adapter in order to get it to work with an older computer. However, when you use a standard USB plug, you won’t get the same charging speed or video speed.

Conclusion:

If you’ve been wondering why you can’t use your old cables to charge your new devices, now you know! Soon just about every portable device will use USB-C for charging (including iPhones in  Europe).

And keep on the lookout for a Geek For Hire review. I’ve ordered several USB-C cables to test out. I’ll report on those results in the near future.

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. He’s the geek for you! 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:

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How To Find the Best Black Friday Tech Deals

When you’re looking for the best Cyber Monday or Black Friday tech deals, it can all get a little overwhelming. There are so many choices, and so many different stores to check out! That’s why we recommend doing a whole bunch of pre-planning in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the whole holiday shopping season.

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.

Six Steps to make Black Friday shopping less stressful:

First, Set up some Ground Rules:

  • Make a list of some of the things you’ve wanted, but have been waiting for a good deal. Add the minimum features you want and the maximum price you’re willing to pay for each item. For example: Ultrawide Curved Monitor $450 to $500
  • Resolve not to make any impulse purchases. (Or to limit impulse buys to a set dollar amount.)
  • Set a firm budget for each item.
  • If you’re looking for the best things to buy on Black Friday, there isn’t a pre-set list. It’s whatever is already on your list. If you’re happy with your phone, you don’t even need to look at the ATT Black Friday deals!

Comparison shop ahead of time

  • Take your list and check out prices on various website
  • If you’re looking for Black Friday PC deals or other Tech deals, check out Dell, Best Buy, Staples, and Amazon. Remember to review our PC buying guide first.
  • You can also set up a Google alert to monitor Black Friday deals for the tech items you are interested in.

Even if you don’t shop on Amazon you can still check out their reviews:

  • On Amazon, search for a specific product. For example “soundbar deals” or “printer deals”. Or you can target Black Friday TV deals.
  • Refine the results to only look at items rated 4 stars or higher.
  • If you’re a Prime member, click the Prime button near the top left.
  • If you have a favorite brand, click those buttons as well.
  • Look at the number of ratings. A product with 1000 reviews and 4.8 stars gets more credence than a product with two reviews and 5 stars.
  • Finally, look at the 1-star reviews. Are any of those are deal-breakers?black friday tech deals - six steps to take out some of the stress

If you’re buying on Amazon – additional things to look for

  • Is the item available as a Prime item with free shipping or other benefits?
  • Can you buy a product from more than one seller?
  • Look at the seller’s ratings. Do they have any one-star ratings? Has anyone complained about not receiving an item, or about their customer service?
  • Make sure you compare the total price plus shipping for the item.
  • Make sure you double-check the “Arrives By” date.
  • Read the Bad reviews.

Bookmark sites that have your favorite Black Friday tech deals:

Most browsers use CTRL+D to set up a new bookmark. Then you can quickly check prices on different sites for Black Friday printer deals or the best Black Friday video game deals.

Set up a separate email ahead of time for shopping

You should use a separate email that is only used for shopping. Make sure your password is super secure. That means 12 or more characters with a good mix of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. The password on this account should be changed at least once every month. When I want a new email account I head over to Gmail.

Support Local Businesses:

Black Friday is also “Buy Nothing Day” and the day before “Small Business Saturday”. If you can, think about supporting the small businesses in your town or neighborhood, even if they don’t have a special deal going on. Small, local businesses have had a tough time the last year and a half. This holiday season is a great time to help them out!

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. He’s the geek for you! 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:

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A Bluetooth-Connected App to Solve Your Puzzle Cube?

What with Bluetooth this and Bluetooth that, have you ever thought about a Bluetooth-connected app to help with solving a puzzle cube? Last year, Santa dropped a non-smart, non-Bluetooth puzzle cube into everyone’s stocking. They were all different. Some were super easy, and others, like the triangle-shaped one, were diabolical! We had fun sharing them, but they are all so mixed up now. I don’t think that they will ever get solved again!

UPDATED: originally published on 5/26/2021. We sometimes post links to products where we may earn a small commission. This won’t change the price you pay, in fact, sometimes we know about additional discounts! As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

A little history:

The original puzzle cube was invented by Erno Rubik in 1974. It took him a month to solve it! Mr. Rubik is Hungarian and has degrees in Architecture and Design.

“Puzzles bring out important qualities in each of us: concentration, curiosity, a sense of play, the eagerness to discover a solution.”

You can read more in his book Cubed.

What’s interesting to me is that Rubik spawned a whole new puzzle industry. There’s a snake cube puzzle, a puzzle ring, even puzzle cubes with famous paintings!

Is there a Bluetooth-connected Puzzle Cube?

I’ve just found out that there are several STEM toys that keep your brain active with improved cognitive mapping skills, increase eye-hand agility, AND help you solve the cube. There are several. The most well-known are the Rubik’s Connected Cube, and the GoCube. They are both physical cubes that connect to your smartphone. They track your progress and help you learn how to solve the puzzle faster.

Want to see how the GoCube puzzle works?

The GoCube was introduced back in 2018 with a Kickstarter campaign. It was designed to help people learn how to solve the puzzle cube faster, and, more importantly, to learn where your logic is breaking down. Before long, you’re moving up to higher and higher levels. GoCube also has a community of other “cubers” worldwide. They’ll match you up with someone at your level to compete against. Awesome!

Here’s their original video from the Kickstarter:

You CAN do the Cube:

If you just want to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube fast, head over to Ruwix. Have you been wondering: how does a Rubik’s Cube work? Ruwix is dedicated to helping you learn the logic behind the madness. This site will even show you how to form the Rubik’s Cube White Cross and the yellow cross. I think if you keep at it, you’ll learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube in 20 moves or less too. Hashtag: #YouCanDoTheCube 

What I love about the GoCube:

  • I love that the GoCube lights up
  • I like that it can sense the position of each square exactly and help you “see” the position spatially. Then, it helps you solve it without making you feel like an idiot.
  • I love that it helps kids of all ages learn logic and spatial awareness.

What I don’t:

  • My only knock is that the GoCube seems a little expensive. Keep on the lookout for discounts. If GoCube has a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal, I’ll update this post.

Conclusion: Should you get a connected Puzzle Cube?

These connected puzzle cubes are great STEM toys that help you learn at the same time. This would be a very cool gift for the holidays! You can purchase it directly from GoCube or Amazon. If you’re thinking about getting more than one, scroll down on the GoCube page for their BOGO deal. 
GoCube Puzzle Cube logo

 

 

 

 

 

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. He’s the geek for you! 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 Tech Tips:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!
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Scary Tech Monsters and Spam Risk – Phishing and Hacking

Whether you know it or not, you are a spam risk.

It’s that time of year to be more aware of all the monsters out there. I wish I was just talking about the cute kids in a Frankenstein costume. I’m talking about the scary tech monsters, the phishers, the scammers, the spoofers, and the hackers. And, unfortunately, they don’t just confine themselves to making their mischief around Halloween. These are year-round monsters!

Some of the ways they can attack you include emails, text messages, phone calls, and social media. We’re talking about the Chase text scam, the Publisher’s Clearing House email scam, the Paypal email scam, and the Wells Fargo email scam, just to name a few. These all add up to more spam risk in your inbox.

But first, let’s define some terms:

Tech Terms Defined:

Scam:

“…an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust.” (from Wikipedia)

Hacking

Hacking is when someone uses social engineering to obtain information from you or installs a virus onto your computer or phone. Here is Wiki’s formal definition of a hacker:

“A hacker is a person skilled in information technology who uses their technical knowledge to achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle, within a computerized system by non-standard means. Though the term hacker has become associated in popular culture with a security hacker – someone who utilizes their technical know-how of bugs or exploits to break into computer systems and access data which would otherwise be unavailable to them – hacking can also be utilized by legitimate figures in legal situations. For example, law enforcement agencies sometimes use hacking techniques in order to collect evidence on criminals and other malicious actors. This could include using anonymity tools (such as a VPN, or the dark web) to mask their identities online, posing as criminals themselves.” (from Wikipedia)

Spoofing:

“Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a forged sender address.” (from Wikipedia)

“Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to indicate to the receiver of a call that the originator of the call is a station other than the true originating station. This can lead to a caller ID display showing a phone number different from that of the telephone from which the call was placed.” (from Wikipedia)

For example, I got phone calls from a Denver physician and “Account Services” last week. When I answered, the recorded voice wanted to sign me up for an extended warranty for my car.

Also, when you get a spammy email “from” yourself, someone has spoofed the message to make it appear that it is coming from you.

We’ve also seen emails from CustomerService@Amazan.com. This is not technically spoofing, but at first glance, you do think the email is coming from Amazon.

Phishing:

“Phishing is a type of social engineering where an attacker sends a fraudulent (“spoofed”) message designed to trick a human victim into revealing sensitive information to the attacker or to deploy malicious software on the victim’s infrastructure like ransomware.”  (from Wikipedia)

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

SpearPhishing:

“Spear phishing involves an attacker directly targeting a specific organization or person with tailored phishing emails. This is essentially the creation and sending of emails to a particular person to make the person think the email is legitimate. In contrast to bulk phishing, spear phishing attackers often gather and use personal information about their target to increase their probability of success of the attack.”  (from Wikipedia)

How Can You Protect Yourself?

Whenever you receive a text, email, or phone call, take a minute to think before responding. Here are our suggestions to protect yourself from spam risk:

Email Scam:

If you’re like me, you receive multiple emails every day asking you to do something. How to tell if an email is fake? There are several steps that you should follow:

  • First, make sure the message is actually from the person or organization that it says it is from. Look at the email address to make sure it is correct and not subtly different. (For example: Amazan instead of Amazon, or J0hn instead of John. In one case I exchanged an “a” for  the letter “o”, in the second case I exchanged the number “0” for the letter “0”.)
  • If you reply, you should also scrutinize the “To” address. If your friend’s email has been hacked, the “To” address may go somewhere totally different.
  • Don’t click on any links in an email. If it is a company telling you that you need to contact them by clicking this link, call or email them using information that you already have. If it’s from a friend, ask them to confirm that they have actually sent you something.
  • Never click on short links like bit.ly, TinyURL, ow.ly, etc. It is too easy to hide malware in a link that appears to come from a legitimate source. (More about URL shorteners.)
  • Do check your spam folder in your email every week to 10 days to make sure a friend’s email didn’t get sent there by accident.

Phishing Text Scam:

Text messages have become a more common way for scammers to attack. Sometimes they’ll send it just to you, and sometimes it will be a group text. When you look at those group texts, you might notice that they all have a similar phone number to you. Here is just one of the spam risk text messages I’ve received. Remember that the phone company is not going to reward you for paying your bill:

Everyone is a spam risk. The hackers just send out texts to a bunch of sequential phone numbers.Here’s an image of the Wells Fargo text scam. It’s my favorite scam text:

 

I haven’t received a scam message from a known contact yet. I’m sure that more sophisticated text scams are coming. Just be careful before replying to any text message.

Bogus Phone Calls:

Phone calls are where we are seeing the most issues. You receive a phone call and the person on the other end sounds legit. They create an urgency about a virus on your machine or an unauthorized charge on your bank card. Whatever it is, they’ve convinced you that you need their help RIGHT NOW! So you confirm your date of birth or give them access to your computer.

I’ve found that the best thing to do is to never answer phone calls from someone I don’t know. If it’s a real person, they’ll leave a voice mail. Even if it’s not a real person and they leave a voicemail, I can tell it’s not someone I want to call back.

If you do answer a call like this and don’t realize right away that it is a scam, the best policy is to never provide personal information or allow them access to your computer.

Studies have shown that older people are more trusting in general, and tend to get hacked more frequently. (Malwarebytes 9/2021 Report, LexisNexis 7/2021 Report) So, if you’re “of a certain age”, be extra careful about providing information to someone you don’t know.

  • If they say they are from your bank, tell them that you’ll call your bank on the number you already have in your contacts to confirm what they’re telling you.
  • If it’s “Microsoft” or “Apple” or “Dell” calling to tell you that there is a virus on your computer, thank them and hang up. Then run your virus scanner just to be on the safe side. You’ll get a call from a friend saying you’ve been hacked before a major corporation will let you know!

Social Media:

I’ve written several articles about hacked Facebook (and Social Media in general). Check them out here, here, and here.

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:

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Women In Science – A Book Review

When you were a kid, did you ever lay down on your grandparent’s floor flipping through the pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica? Who cared that the book was 20 or 50 years old? The information was just so interesting! That’s how I feel reading Women In Science by Rachel Ignotofsky.

If you follow me on social media, you know that I love to celebrate women in the Science and Technology fields. (Women in STEM rock!) I was brought up by strong women – my mom (the Professor) started a Masters in Science program from scratch, and my stepmother was the first woman Stockbroker in the state of New Jersey. I didn’t really have a choice but to always be learning! Ms. Ignotofsky has streamlined the process of learning about interesting scientific women by researching 50 of them from 350AD to the present day.

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.

What I loved:

  • She provided little snippets of information that float around her creative illustrations. (See the image below of a sample page from the book.)
  • She thoroughly researched each woman and captured the most important details in a one-page overview. Who influenced each person? What was their education? What obstacles did they need to overcome?
  • In addition to the 50 women, she included a brief acknowledgment of 14 other women scientists.
  • She has several pages dedicated to additional information about Lab Tools, STEM statistics, and a great glossary. (The glossary includes more of her illustrations!)
  • Ms. Ignotofsky created a general Timeline with dates of interest from Hypatia (a mathematician living in Alexandria around 400AD) to today. The timeline includes the first women to reach different milestones, along with different US laws which are aimed at reversing discrimination towards women in various forms.

What I didn’t love about Women In Science:women in science - sample page from book

How can you choose just fifty women? What about Mileva Maric? She was a physicist who is said to have contributed enormously to Albert Einstein’s work. (Sarcasm alert: She was probably called Mrs. Albert Einstein.) How about Alexa Canady? She was the first black woman to become a Neurosurgeon. But in just a short 127-page book, there really wasn’t the space to include information about many more women.

Conclusion:

Even such a short book sparks the mind to go looking for more. Just type “First woman who…” into Google and see what turns up. What a wonderful rabbit hole to fall into!

Google search for first woman who ....

 

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 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:

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What To Look For When Buying A Computer

In the past few weeks, we’ve had more than a few people ask us what to look for when buying a computer. Is it pent-up demand after a year of hanging out at home? Was it for Back-to-School? Is it pre-planning for Black Friday? Is it the regular paycheck again and can finally afford to replace that old Windows 7 machine? (If you’re looking for a new MacBook or iMac, check out this article for Chris’ recommendations.) Whatever your motivation, if you’ve been wondering what to look for in a computer, here’s our advice.

Computer Purchasing Tips:

Laptop or Desktop:

We live out west where “fire season” is almost the same time as “hurricane season”. It starts in early summer and lasts through October or November. Because we never know when we’ll be evacuated, we lean towards laptops. We’ve found that there is not a whole lot of performance difference between desktops and laptops anymore. When someone says “Your next computer should be a desktop”, we respectfully disagree.

If you do prefer to have a computer on your desk, get an external monitor or two, a docking station, a wireless keyboard, and a mouse. With this setup, it will work just like a desktop.

What to look for when buying a computer - image of laptop, 2 monitors, wireless mouse and keyboard

Here’s my setup with the laptop and two monitors.

Because laptops are more portable by design, if you do get evacuated, you can just toss the computer in your laundry basket and head out to your vehicle. (More advice on how to keep your tech safe during fire season.)

Do you want a Touchscreen: 

We find that touchscreens add extra complexity and end up making the total cost of the machine more expensive without useful functionality. Unless you have a real need for a touchscreen, we’d advise against getting one. (My current laptop has a touch screen which I almost never use. Partly because the lid is always closed!)

How much Storage:

Choose a Solid-State Drive over a traditional Hard Drive. SSDs are much faster than a physical hard drive. In addition, they are more robust because they have no moving parts. Check to see how much storage you are currently using, then double it or more for your new machine. You’re not going to take fewer photos in the future! And, as technology changes, those photos will be larger. I have a 2 TB SSD which seems to work well for me. (More information about storage, SSDs, and hard drives.)

How much RAM:

I always get confused between “memory” and “storage”. RAM is memory. When you’re buying a computer, get at least 8 gigs of RAM as two separate sticks, not one. If you’re the type of person who opens a bunch of windows and tabs, you’ll want to bump that up to 16 gig or more of RAM.

What kind of Keyboard:

Do you want a 10-key Keyboard? (A 10-key is the number pad generally to the right of the rest of the keys. Accountants and anyone who works with numbers use them.) I once got a USB-connected 10-key accessory because my computer didn’t have one. It worked, but it was cumbersome. If you think you’ll want one, make sure it is a part of your ordering process. Do you ever work in the dark? Think about getting a backlit keyboard. Do you like the clickity-clack of an old-style typewriter?

The size of the keyboard can also dictate the size of the laptop. If you’re an expert typist, a smaller keyboard may work well for you. If you tend to make a lot of typos, look at a larger machine.

Do you want a Video Camera:

If you do a lot of Zooming, Facetiming, or Google Meeting, think about getting a video camera. There is not as much of an ordering backlog as there was six months ago. Most laptops come with a camera already built-in. A higher quality external camera can be added later.

What size Battery:

One of the things to look for in a computer is battery life. Get the largest battery offered for the machine so you can continue working a long time without being plugged in.

Also, order a second power brick. Keep one on your desk and one in your laptop case to simplify travel. (And, if one of them stops working, you’ll already have a spare.)

How long of a Warranty:

When you’re buying a personal computer, don’t forget about the warranty. We’ve noticed that computers tend to have issues with their component parts at about the 3 ½ to 3 ¾ year mark. Get at least a four-year warranty from the manufacturer. Don’t get a warranty from the store. Sometimes, when you buy a new computer at a store, like Best Buy or Costco, they won’t offer a manufacturer warranty. In that case, get the longest warranty the store offers.

Against our advice, a recent customer got a one-year standard warranty on an inexpensive machine. They had a lot of questions that the warranty covered, but if they spill coffee on the laptop next year, they’re out of luck.

Read the fine print! Not all warranties provide coverage on liquid spills or falling off the rooftop of your car while driving. Don’t sign until you ask a ton of questions!

What kind of Processor:

The Core I3 processor is pretty slow. Chris recommends the Intel Core I5 or I7. (The I9 is also available. It’s smokin’ fast and a lot more expensive.) There’s more info about the Intel processors here. We’ve found that in most cases the AMD processors tend to perform poorly.

How much will a new computer cost:

Expect to spend at least $1000 on a machine that will still serve you and that you’ll still like in three years. Like most things, computers are a “you get what you pay for” kind of thing. There are “cheap” machines which are, unfortunately, sold for more than they are worth. Do your research and let us know if you need help. Also, most of the major manufacturers (Dell, Lenovo, HP) have payment plans. Ask! If you purchase a new computer for less than $800, expect to be disappointed.

What else do I need to know?

How long do laptops last?

Computers are still pretty robust. Expect to get four to ten years out of a good laptop or desktop, with more and more problems occurring after the four year mark. (FYI, we have a 2008 iMac that is still going strong.)

I really don’t know what to look for when buying a computer!

Need help? One of the services we provide is to work with different manufacturers to get the best machine possible for our customers. Chris will listen to your requirements and design a machine that will work for you. Because of our long association with Dell, Chris is generally able to get a 30-50% discount on those machines. He gets less of a discount with other manufacturers. We have a one-hour design fee for this service. If you’ve already done some selecting, schedule a consultation with us. Chris can review the design and make suggestions before you actually purchase the machine.

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 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:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!
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Right To Repair Movement

For years I’ve been hearing about the “Right to Repair” movement and didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the issue. It seemed to primarily deal with farmers having issues with their tractors. Apparently, farmers were prohibited by some manufacturers from fixing their own tractors. If they did try to fix the tractor or to get an unauthorized mechanic to fix it, the manufacturer could send a signal through their internet software system to shut the tractor down entirely. Many farmers resorted to downloading Ukrainian software to get things working again. From an article in the Guardian:

“The majority of tractors today are internet-connected, and resolving errors requires special diagnostic tools that only manufacturers, such as John Deere, and authorized dealers have access to or are allowed to use. They often charge hundreds of dollars in call-out fees for repairs, which can take weeks to complete.”

Right to Repair your technology:

Fast forward to 2015 when customers started asking Chris to repair their iPhones. Because we’re not an authorized Apple dealer we couldn’t help them. If we even attempted to open the phone, the customer’s warranty would be voided! There have also been a few instances where Chris was repairing other Apple products and needed a replacement part. Apple refused to sell him the parts and Chris had to send the customer to the Apple store instead.

Luckily, it’s easier now to get replacement parts for MacBooks and iMacs, but we’re still not able to help with iPhones or iPads.Right to repair - specialized screwdriver required

Another issue is repairability. When someone calls about a broken printer, I have to tell them they should just buy a new one. (Hardware problems. We can fix software and networking issues.) Printers are designed to be disposable. You can’t take a printer apart to fix it without breaking more components in the process. And if you’re careful enough to not break anything else, it will take hours to do. Sometimes even fixing a paper jam will fatally break a printer!

Some of the less-expensive laptops are like this too. They are put together with teeny, fragile, plastic micro-clips that are designed to break if you take the laptop apart.)  I have to tell our customers that it’s not very cost-effective to spend $300 to fix a $100 printer!

Medical Devices:

In doing a little more research into this issue, I read about hospitals that couldn’t get their equipment repaired in a timely manner during the past year. Hospitals had to go through the manufacturer who had huge backlogs. They couldn’t bring in a qualified but “unauthorized” repair person who could fix it more quickly and less expensively. Having access to repair manuals and parts would allow hospitals to repair the equipment themselves:

“Too many hospitals face long waits for authorized technicians to repair life-saving machines. In a survey published in July by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, almost one-third of biomedical repair technicians said some equipment at their facilities could not be used because repairs were unavailable. To be clear, it isn’t just equipment needed for coronavirus treatment that’s impacted—preventative maintenance on all kinds of devices has fallen behind because manufacturer-certified technicians were unavailable. Everything from imaging equipment like MRI, CT X-ray, and ultrasound machines, to anesthesia machines, heart-lung machines, and other surgical equipment were affected.”

Individuals:

The Right to Repair doesn’t only impact farmers, hospitals, and computer repair companies. It takes its toll on regular people too. I read about Rob Oliver in Pennsylvania, who is paralyzed from the chest down. When the footrest on his shower chair broke, he reached out to the manufacturer. The part cost only a couple of dollars, but they wouldn’t sell it to him. They told him to purchase a new $1500 chair instead. Recently, I received an update from Rob:

The manufacturer “actually sent a tech out to install the new part, twice! The problem was that the manufacturer had sent the wrong part. After getting it wrong those 2 times, they then decided that they were not going to try to get the right part anymore. (The manufacturer decided, not the service provider.)”

Thank goodness the US government finally understands how the inability to repair a product you’ve purchased is a problem for individuals and across many industries.

Right to Repair Legislation:

It looks like all that may be coming to an end and consumers will soon have the right to repair any phone, car, washing machine, or shower chair that they purchase. The Federal Trade Commission issued a statement on July 21st saying that they would “Ramp up Law Enforcement Against Illegal Repair Restrictions”. Here’s a link to the full statement.

“The FTC has concluded that manufacturers use a variety of methods—such as using adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, (we’ve seen this) limiting the availability of parts and tools, (we’ve seen this too.) or making diagnostic software unavailable—that have made consumer products harder to fix and maintain….  In addition, manufacturers and sellers may be restricting competition for repairs in a number of ways that might violate the law.

I’m not sure how long it will take for the FTC to enforce “Right to Repair”, but this is good news for consumers and independent repair people everywhere.Right to repair - don't even think of opening this keyboard

Not surprisingly, Apple, Tesla, and other companies are opposed to consumer’s right to repair products that they have purchased. When Massachusetts added an initiative to their 2020 ballot, Tesla sent an email to voters asking them to vote against it:

“As you go to the polls this fall, Tesla asks that you vote no on Question 1 … goes well beyond what is necessary … it potentially jeopardizes vehicle and data security. The requirements, pushed by two national auto shop lobbying groups, would make vehicles more vulnerable to cyberattacks and would make successful attacks more harmful.”

Conclusion:

Steve Wozniak is all for the right to repair. The aptly named Repair Preservation Group recently interviewed Woz. He reminds us that:

“We wouldn’t have had an Apple had I not grown up in a very open technology world.”

 

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 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:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!
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How To Change Password on iPhone

If you’re in the service industry you already know how to change password on iPhone. Having a secure passcode on your SmartPhone keeps your co-workers from posting silly things on your Facebook page.

All kidding aside, if your iPhone isn’t with you 24/7/365 there is a chance it could fall into someone else’s hands. Did you ever leave your phone on the desk in the library while you went to pick up the document you just printed, or leave it on the table in a restaurant while you use the restroom? Your phone isn’t as secure as you like to think.

Of course, we advise that you log out of all apps on your phone as soon as you’re done using them. And we also advise that you never store your credit card information in an app that you use on your iPhone. But who are we kidding? Even I don’t do that all the time, so I’m pretty sure you don’t either. And that’s why you need to make sure your iPhone is securely locked down when you’re not using it.

Should you Use a Passcode or Biometric Authentication?

We prefer using a very secure passcode over biometric authentication. Biometric Authentication is just a fancy way of saying they’ll use your fingerprint or Face ID to say that you are you. We think a passcode or password is more secure.

iPhone Passcode Requirement:

Many people use a simple four or six-digit numeric code to log onto their iPhone. This is simply not secure enough.

Geek For Hire recommends that you use a secure passcode with twelve or more characters, using a good mix of letters, numbers, special characters/punctuation, and capital letters. (The time it takes to crack a six-digit, all number passcode is measured in milliseconds. To crack a 12-digit passcode with mixed characters would take about 2000 years. Check out this article for more info.

If you want to know how to change iPhone passcode so that it is longer, follow these seven steps:

  1. Open “Settings” and click on “Face ID & Passcode.first of two images which show how to change password on iphone
  2. Then click on “Change Passcode.”
  3. After you’ve entered your old passcode, click on “Passcode Options”, and then click on “Custom Alphanumeric Code”. This allows you to use more than just numbers for your code.
  4. Enter your new passcode using a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. It’s still important to use a passcode that will be easy for you to remember. For example, if you’re an avid reader:
    • I Love My Library could become…
    • I<3MyLibrary!
  5. Write it down so you’ll remember it in an hour. After you’ve entered it a few times, your muscle memory should kick in and you can shred and toss that scrap of paper.
  6. Don’t make it so hard that you get frustrated every time you enter it and decide you’re better off without a passcode.
  7. While you’re on this screen, change the requirement for entering your passcode to five minutes or less.Second of two images which show how to change password on iphone

What You Should NOT Do:

  1. Don’t ignore the passcode altogether.
  2. If you do use a four-digit passcode don’t use any series of numbers that form a pattern. For example,  “1234”, or “1111”, “2580”, and “7139” are all really bad. But seriously, don’t use a four-digit code!
  3. If you do use a six-digit passcode, don’t use “136974”, or any other pattern on the keypad.
  4. Generally, don’t use an easily recognizable pattern or series of numbers.
  5. And, of course, don’t use your birthday, your phone number, your name, etc.

How to Remove Passcode from iPhone:

Seriously? After reading all of that you want to know how to remove iPhone password? Here you go:

  1. Open “Settings” and click on “Face ID & Passcode.
  2. Click “Turn Passcode Off”
  3. Confirm that you don’t want to use your Apple Pay cards and that your Apple Watch will lock.
  4. It’s not too late! Please reconsider! Don’t do it! Click on cancel!

Conclusion:

You should have a passcode on all your portable devices, especially any devices that have credit card information or other private data. This includes your SmartPhone, SmartWatch, tablet, etc.

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 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:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!
Tagged

Q&A: Computer Data Storage or “My computer is running out of space!”

We frequently get questions from our customers. Here’s one about saving files and computer data storage:

Question:

My computer is running out of memory.  I have been using Dropbox on my computer for a while now. 

I have files in Dropbox and they are also under “This PC”. I am thinking that the files under “This PC” should be cleaned up and then merged with Dropbox so that it isn’t using so much space.  They are mostly duplicates. They will still be available on the computer any time and backed up and free up lots of space. Am I right.?

So paranoid about losing my files, mostly photos. 

Answer:

The only thing I don’t like about Dropbox is that I cannot figure out how to save files in “the cloud” that are not also on my computer. So, yes, I’m paranoid about deleting things too. I would bet that there is a way to do it, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

I love Dropbox because it is a stress-free way to make sure that if my computer crashes, I still have all my files. But running out of space is a definite concern. Over the years, I have gone onto Dropbox a few times to see how I could delete a file from my computer but have it still stay in the Dropbox “cloud”. There is a way to do this. But, each time I look it up, I realize that it is too convoluted a process and there’s a non-zero risk I could lose my files.

So I keep everything…

Your Computer Data Storage Options:

When you’re running out of space on your computer you have four options:

Keep Everything:

This is by far the easiest option. Get a new larger Hard Drive or Solid State Drive and install it into your computer. This is my kind of option! My current laptop has a 2 TB SSD that is just under half full.

Delete files from your computer but not in the Cloud: 

There are several cloud storage services to choose from. Figure out how to delete files from your computer but not from Dropbox. (If you’re more confident than I am, here’s the solution from two separate sources; one from the Dropbox Forum, and the other from Windows Report. (Or, of course, Chris could help you do this.) Dropbox also has something called “Selective Sync“.) If you’re wondering how to delete files on Dropbox, that’s easy! Just delete it from your computer, and it’ll be gone from Dropbox too.

Prune your files:

Start deleting the files you’ll never use again.

  • Do you really need those nine awful selfies you took? Why not just keep the one you posted on social media?
  • Do you need to keep the 17 drafts of the document you wrote for work in 2014?
  • When was the last time you emptied the “trash” folder?

Move data to an external SSD:

Back up all of your data to an external Solid State Drive (SSD), test that the files are really there, then delete them from your computer. Write the date on the SSD, and maybe print out the directory file, and put that all into an envelope. That way you can see later which drives have what data.

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.

You might wonder why I specify a Solid State Drive. SSDs are more robust than standard physical Hard Drives or other computer data storage options like thumb drives. And, they are faster; much faster! Chris put together a list of recommended computer data storage devices.

You can also save all your photos from a trip to an SSD. Then you can bring it with you when you visit family and friends to show them too!

Back-Up Your Data:

But don’t forget! You should still be backing up your data on a very regular basis. A friend once told me: “Data doesn’t exist unless it is stored in three separate places.” In my case, I’ve got stuff on my computer, the cloud via Dropbox, and an external SSD that I back up to about once a month. Here’s a link to the SSD I use for backups.

(Are you still wondering what the cloud is? Here’s an article I wrote in 2018.)

A reminder to back-up your data to a computer data storage device

 

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 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:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!
Tagged

Leaves of Change or Colorado in the Fall

It’s Fall in Colorado, aka leaf-peeping season. Right now, there are a few yellow leaves here and there, but by mid-September, many of Colorado’s scenic byways will be blazing with color from our signature aspens and cottonwoods. And I’ll bet you’re wondering if there is an informative fall foliage map out there that will guide you to the best views.

I’m supposed to be writing about Tech Tips. So what do Leafers*, Fall Foliage Maps, and Peak Foliage have to do with technology? Well, there are websites and apps out there to help you find the best places and times to go for the tree color. Here are my favorites:

Predictive Peak Foliage Map:

I think this peak fall foliage map from the Smokey Mountains is the best one.fall foliage map from SmokeyMountains.com

Even though the Smokeys are on the East coast, they’ve got an amazing predictive Fall Foliage Forecast map for the entire lower 48. David Angotti from SmokyMountains.com, who developed the map with his team says:

“The fall leaf map is intuitive and easy to use. When you visit the page, you will see a slider at the bottom. The slider will be set to the current week. You can slide the slider to the right to see the predicted progression of fall. The green indicates the trees in that area of the country have not begun to change colors. The brown color means that the leaves are past their peak. The remaining colors show a colorful depiction of the progression of fall.”

One big downside to this map is that you can’t zoom in to see your particular region or county.

Colorado Fall Foliage Map:

If you’re looking for a fall foliage map with only Colorado, I think the map from KDVR is spot on. It looks like the Peak to Peak region will peak mid-to-end of September.Fall foliage map from KDVR.com

Weather:

You can’t go leaf-peeping in the rain! Check the forecast a few days before, and then on the morning that you are setting out. If it looks like it’s going to rain or be very windy, see if you can rearrange your schedule to go leaf-peeping before the weather. I’ve got a couple of favorite weather sites. Simply enter the zip code or city name of where you’re going:

Driving tips:

  • If you find a great view and want to take a photo, pull all the way off the road.
  • If you notice someone driving up behind you really fast, they may have an emergency, or just need to get to work. Pull over and let them pass. Then you can continue taking in the view at your own pace.

Cell Service:

Several years ago, I published a guide to cell service along the Peak to Peak Highway. There has been some expansion of coverage, but it’s still fairly accurate.

Colorado Map:

I don’t know about you, but cell service isn’t always available. And I need to know where I am! I like this laminated folding map. (You should know that as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.)

Weird Definitions:

* Leafers? Yes, it’s a word. According to the Urban Dictionary:

“A leafer is any American who travels north to see the leaves change colour. Also known as a wanna-be Canadian. Hogs your bars and parking spots.”

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 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 Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More Tips Here:

  • Are VPNs worth it? More here.
  • Are you interested in learning more about Extreme Privacy?
  • We have seen a lot of Facebook hacking lately. Here’s what you should do ahead of time to keep your account safe.
  • And here are the 10 Password Mistakes you don’t want to make!
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